Industrial Engineering

All the Electronics Fit to Print

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Direct deposit quickly produces X-ray imager, mechanical devices

The Palo Alto Research Center has used new technology to print a portable X-ray imager and small mechanical devices. Tina said “It’s a demonstration of how far this technology can go”.

Making electronics on conventional silicon wafers can cost a lot and take a long time. But researchers have developed ways to deposit patterns of metals, semiconductors and other material directly onto substrates like plastic, paper and fabric, just like a printer deposits patterns of ink.

Items like the flexible X-ray imager could be used by doctors in the field, serve as small security scanners or even help soldiers identify bombs in battle. White the technique won’t work for high-end silicon chips that run computers and phones, people in the future could be able to print sensors that can monitor vital signs onto clothes that could alert you when things get out of whack.

For example, some researchers have printed devices that make flexible solar cells. Combining the technologies could produce a jacket that doubles as a solar panel to power your electronic devices.