Conductive Copper Inks for Printed Electronics

Technology Overview

The total market for printed, flexible and organic electronics is projected to grow to $76.79 billion in 2023. A large part of that are conductive inks, which can be used for used for a wide range of applications such as solar cells, RFID antennas and OLED devices. However, the most commonly used inks are based on silver, which are too costly for many applications. The copper ink developed presents a long shelf life without any risk of oxidation, and is suitable for various printing technologies, especially inkjet printing. The ink has a self-reduction property, and is activated by heating or by low temperature processes.

The ink showed good printability by various types of inkjet printheads, and after post-treatment results in a conductivity of about 16 - 25% bulk copper. The ink is compatible with high temperature (~190°C) and also low temperature (<60°C) approaches that can be performed on plastics.

The ink can also be used as a very low cost seed ink for electroless deposition of copper, to further increase the conductivity and line's height up to 40% bulk copper. By using this approach the inks enables printing on 2.5D structures, yielding good conductivity, even on complex topography (surface roughness of ~2 mm).

Technology Features & Specifications

  • Ink containing a clear solution of a copper complex
  • Simple, low-cost ink-jet printing
  • Copper complex protected against oxidation during preparation and storage at room temperatures for prolonged periods
  • Enables printing of conductive patterns on a variety of substrates including some plastics
  • Under certain conditions, conductivity of up to 25% bulk copper can be achieved at low temperature (<60°C)
  • Can also be laser-sintered

Potential Applications

This technology is applicable (but not limited) to:

  • Printed electronics in general
  • Printing of various electronic and optoelectronic devices, including rigid and flexible ones

The total market for printed, flexible and organic electronics is projected to grow to $76.79 billion in 2023. If inherent problems of copper inks are solved (as by our technology), the copper ink is expected many printing applications which currently use costly silver inks.

Customer Benefits

  • Unique copper complex ink (no such ink is currently commercially available)
  • Simple printability and post printing process
  • Long shelf life without any risk of oxidation
  • Presents no risk of clogging the inkjet printheads since it is solution-based
  • Suitable for multiple decomposition (to convert the ink into conductive copper) methods such as laser, plasma and low temperature heating

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