News Article

Researchers Make Inkjet Printable 2D Semiconductors

Method for producing biocompatible water-based inks could bring 2D crystal heterostructures from the lab to real-world products


Above: Fully inkjet-printed heterostructures on Si/SiO2. a, Schematic of an all-printed GrB/WS2/GrT heterostructure on Si/SiO2. b, Left: Optical picture of an array of 4 x 4 GrB/WS2/GrT heterostructures printed on Si/SiO2. Right: Optical picture of one of the heterostructures, showing the two graphene electrodes and the square of photoactive material.

Researchers at the University of Manchester, led by Cinzia Casiraghi, have developed a method of producing water-based and inkjet printable 2D material inks, which could bring 2D crystal heterostructures from the lab into real-world products such as smart packaging applications and identification tags. Notably these inks are biocompatible, which extends their use to biomedical applications.

As well as graphene, the team has successfully exfoliated and printed a range of 2D semiconductors including MoS2, WS2 and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN). Using this approach, it has developed efficient light detectors, and programmable logic memory devices able to store information encoded in binary form. The work was done in collaboration with the University of Pisa and the results reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

2D materials show great promise for use in flexible electronics, because their atomic thickness allows for maximum electrostatic control, optical transparency, sensitivity and mechanical flexibility. In addition, because 2D crystals are characterised by out-of-plane van der Waals interactions, they can be combined easily in one multilayer stack, offering unprecedented control of the properties and functions of the resulting heterostructure-based device.

In this framework, inkjet printing can provide an attractive route to low-cost and large-scale fabrication of heterostructures on any substrate. Furthermore, inkjet printing allows the fabrication of very complex heterostructures, which can provide multiple functions and improved performance. In contrast, methods such as vacuum filtration and spin/spray coating, which have been used previously, offer poor control of the thickness and roughness of the layers and have limited design flexibility, according to the researchers.

Current ink formulations, which would allow heterostructures to be made by simple and low-cost methods, are far from ideal - either containing toxic solvents or requiring time-consuming and expensive processes. In addition, none are optimised for heterostructure fabrication.

Casiraghi said: "Due to the simplicity, flexibility and low cost of device fabrication and integration, we envisage this technology to find potential in smart packaging applications and labels, for example for food, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, where thinner, lighter and cheaper and easy to integrate components are needed".

Daryl McManus, PhD student said: "These inks provide a perfect platform to fully exploit the range of properties of 2D materials by allowing for the first time a precise and scalable method for fabrication of devices of arbitrary complexity utilising 2D materials."

'Water-based and biocompatible 2D crystal inks for all-inkjet printed heterostructures' by Daryl McManus et al; Nature Nanotechnology (2017) doi:10.1038/nnano.2016.281

AngelTech Live III: Join us on 12 April 2021!

AngelTech Live III will be broadcast on 12 April 2021, 10am BST, rebroadcast on 14 April (10am CTT) and 16 April (10am PST) and will feature online versions of the market-leading physical events: CS International and PIC International PLUS a brand new Silicon Semiconductor International Track!

Thanks to the great diversity of the semiconductor industry, we are always chasing new markets and developing a range of exciting technologies.

2021 is no different. Over the last few months interest in deep-UV LEDs has rocketed, due to its capability to disinfect and sanitise areas and combat Covid-19. We shall consider a roadmap for this device, along with technologies for boosting its output.

We shall also look at microLEDs, a display with many wonderful attributes, identifying processes for handling the mass transfer of tiny emitters that hold the key to commercialisation of this technology.

We shall also discuss electrification of transportation, underpinned by wide bandgap power electronics and supported by blue lasers that are ideal for processing copper.

Additional areas we will cover include the development of GaN ICs, to improve the reach of power electronics; the great strides that have been made with gallium oxide; and a look at new materials, such as cubic GaN and AlScN.

Having attracted 1500 delegates over the last 2 online summits, the 3rd event promises to be even bigger and better – with 3 interactive sessions over 1 day and will once again prove to be a key event across the semiconductor and photonic integrated circuits calendar.

So make sure you sign up today and discover the latest cutting edge developments across the compound semiconductor and integrated photonics value chain.



Search the news archive

To close this popup you can press escape or click the close icon.
Register - Step 1

You may choose to subscribe to the Compound Semiconductor Magazine, the Compound Semiconductor Newsletter, or both. You may also request additional information if required, before submitting your application.

Please subscribe me to:


You chose the industry type of "Other"

Please enter the industry that you work in:
Please enter the industry that you work in:
Live Event