Enabling 3D printing of sensors using nickel nanoparticles

December 21, 2016

Vol31-3

Nickel is a metal with excellent corrosion resistance properties, ideally suited for printing applications. However, when utilising inks made from nickel nanoparticles for inkjet printing, particle clusters form that can clog the printer head nozzles.

An innovative application for nanoparticle nickel material is being developed through a collaboration agreement with Nano Dimension Technologies, a leading printing electronics company in the area of 3D printing, and Ramot at Tel Aviv University.

Researchers led by Professor Gil Markovich, head of the department of chemistry, have now devised a unique method to produce a stable suspension of nickel nanoparticles that do not cluster. This was achieved using a wet chemical synthesis process, based on the reduction reaction of the nickel compounds and the presence of a capping agent which forms well-defined nickel nanoparticles.

A range of new applications

Potential applications of these well-defined nickel nanoparticles include sensors with a high spatial resolution, using advanced print heads and a precision micrometer scale. Implementing this innovative technology with Nano Dimension’s 3D printing process will make it possible to embed sensors within the layers of a PCB (printed circuit board), opening up a world of possibilities for the monitoring of various energies and their derivatives, such as capacitance, magnetism, temperature and radiation.

Notably, nickel functions as an effective barrier against oxidation (diffusion barrier) when used for the production of PCBs. Adequate protection is particularly necessary for nano- metric corrosive metals, since oxidation is immediate when exposed to air.

This collaboration with Tel Aviv University, in combination with Nano Dimension’s intellectual property and know-how, has produced exciting new advancements in the development of new ink formulations and a wide range of new 3D printing applications.

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