Nanomaterials and Scalable, Low-Cost Screen Printing for Soft Wearable Bioelectronics

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Zavanelli, Nathan
Yeo, Woon-Hong
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Stretchable electronics have demonstrated tremendous potential in wearable healthcare, advanced diagnostics, soft robotics, and persistent human–machine interfaces. Still, their applicability is limited by a reliance on low-throughput, high-cost fabrication methods. Traditional MEMS/NEMS metallization and off-contact direct-printing methods are not suitable at scale. In contrast, screen printing is a high-throughput, mature printing method. The recent development of conductive nanomaterial inks that are intrinsically stretchable provides an exciting opportunity for scalable fabrication of stretchable electronics. The design of screen-printed inks is constrained by strict rheological requirements during printing, substrate–ink attraction, and nanomaterial properties that determine dispersibility and percolation threshold. Here, we present our recent work developing screen-printable nanomaterial inks, optimizing printing parameters for ultrafine patterning down to <60 µm, investigating multilevel material adhesion and reliability, designing complex sensors, and integrating these innovations into functional bioelectronics. Specifically, we present high precision screen printing of functional nanomaterials to enable fabrication of highly functional biopotential electrodes, thermoelectric nanogenerators, flexible circuits, semiconductors, printed vias, solderable circuit pads, strain gauges, and pressure sensors. These fundamental advances in materials fabrication and high-throughput bioelectronics fabrication have transformative potential for the field of soft electronics, and we are committed to further studies on these systems to validate their potential in functional devices.
NSF GRFP under Grant No. DGE-2039655
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