Printing of Metal Wires, Grids and Circuits From a Microreactor Mold

Technology #ua15-174

Title: Process for Printing Metal Nanowires from a Microreactor Mold


Invention: This invention provides a method for printing nanowires by depositing Ligandless metallic nanoparticles in a pattern on a surface using a microreactor mold. A solution containing the nanoparticles is flowed through channels in the mold depositing nanoparticles when heated. Removing the mold from the surface and annealing the nanoparticles yields wires in the same pattern as the mold. Changing the configuration of the pattern and composition of the surface produces different electronic devices. Substrates could include other metals, semiconductors, polymers, paper, and ceramics.  The addition of a polymer (conductive or nonconductive) to the nanoparticle film prints a flexible wire.


Background:  Transparent conductors are used in a wide variety of applications, including low-emissivity windows, flat-panel displays, touch-sensitive control panels, solar cells and for electromagnetic shielding (Gordon 2000). The market for flat-panel displays alone is worth approximately $90 billion per year. Over recent years the interest in semiconductor nanowires has increased. In comparison with conventional planar technology, nanowire based semiconductor devices offer unique properties due to the one-dimensional nature of the nanowires, improved flexibility in materials combinations due to less lattice matching restrictions and opportunities for novel device architectures. Suitable methods for growing semiconductor nanowires are known in the art and one basic process is nanowire formation on semiconductor substrates by particle-assisted growth or the so-called VLS (vapor-liquid- solid) mechanism, which is disclosed in e.g. US 7,335,908. Particle-assisted growth can be achieved by for instance use of chemical beam epitaxy (CBE), metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD), metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE), molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), laser ablation and thermal evaporation methods. However, nanowire growth is not limited to VLS processes. For example the WO 2007/102781 shows that semiconductor nanowires may be grown on semiconductor substrates without the use of a particle as a catalyst. Nanowires have been utilized to realize devices such as solar cells, field effect transistors, light emitting diodes, thermoelectric elements, etc. which in many cases outperform conventional devices based on planar technology.



•       Solar / Photovoltaic Cells

•       Field Effect Transistors

•       Light Emitting Diodes

•       Thermoelectric Elements

•       Biosensors

•       Flexible LED Displays for Phones, Tablets, Computer Monitors

•       Self-Cleaning Glass



•       Directly print metal lines on a surface from a pattern in a mold.

•       Invention allows for the coating of glass or silica in thin layers of metal with little surface alteration (i.e. monolayers).

•       Invention allows for a patterned seed layer to be printed on a surface for later electroplating of a thicker film.

•       Invention is a one pot method for patterning a surface with a metallic layer.

•       Invention allows for the addition of multiple polymers to the metal film for tailored applications.



Dr. Anthony Muscat (Lead Inventor)

Dr. Lance R Hubbard (Co-Inventor)

Licensing Manager:

Bob Sleeper


Technology ID: Refer to UA Case Number UA15-174