Nanopaper for foldable electronics

Scientists have used one of the simplest, ordinary materials on Earth to create the latest and flattest in electronics – paper.

Researchers at the University of Maryland in America have taken the first step towards green, flexible electronics by printing transparent electronics onto “nanopaper,” created from wood pulp treated with enzymes and mechanically beaten, the Daily Mail reported.

They developed the transistor on the surface of the nanopaper by printing three different inks on it.

In their paper ‘Highly Transparent and Flexible Nanopaper Transistor’, the researchers explained that the transistor had “unique properties, such as flexibility, cost efficiency, lightweight and renewability” and that the field of “green electronics” was becoming an emerging field of research with commercial interest. 

The transistor is 84 per cent transparent and malleable, allowing it to still perform when slightly bent. The nanopaper is thin enough to be cut or folded leading the way for foldable electronics.
Researcher Liangbing Hu told Extreme Tech that it’s as flat as plastic.

“The device configuration can be applied to many other semiconductor materials toward flexible green electronics,” the report said.

Printed on the nanopaper was a layer of carbon nanotubes, a dielectric ink, a semiconducting ink and another layer of nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes are single atomic sheets of carbon rolled up into a tube and are 10,000 times smaller than a strand of human hair.

Their next challenge for researchers will be to devise a way to print the nanopaper on a commercial, mass production scale. The breakthrough has come after researchers at IBM revealed a new technique that could one day replace silicon in computer chips, making them dramatically smaller and faster.

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