Scientists have shown how electricity is transported in printed 2D materials, paving the way for the development of flexible healthcare devices and more.
A study published today in Natural electronicsled by researchers from Imperial College London and Politecnico di Torino, reveals the physical mechanisms responsible for transporting electricity in printed two-dimensional (2D) materials.
The work determines what properties of the 2D film need to be adjusted to produce electronic devices to order, which allows the rational development of a new class of high-performance printed and flexible electronics.
Silicon chips are the components that power most of our electronics, from fitness trackers to smartphones. However, their rigid nature limits their use in flexible electronics. Made from single-atom-thick layers, 2D materials can be scattered in solution and formulated into inks for printing, creating ultra-thin films that are extremely flexible, translucent and with new electronic properties.
This opens up the possibility of new types of devices, such as those that can be integrated into flexible and stretchable materials such as clothing, paper or even fabrics into the human body.
Previously, researchers created several flexible electronic devices from printed 2D materials, but these were disposable “proof-of-concept” components designed to show how one specific property such as high electron mobility, light detection or charge storage can be implemented.
However, not knowing what parameters to manage to develop printed 2D materials, their widespread use has been limited. Now an international research team has studied how electronic charge is transported in several inkjet films made of 2D materials, showing how it is controlled by changes in temperature, magnetic field and electric field.
The team investigated three typical types of 2D materials: graphene (a “semi-metal” built from a single layer of carbon atoms), molybdenum disulfide (or MoS)2“Semiconductor”) and titanium carbide MXene (or Ti3S2metal) and reflected how the electric charge transfer behavior changed under these different conditions.
Lead researcher Dr Felice Torrisi of the Imperial Department of Chemistry said: “Our results have a huge impact on how we understand transporting two-dimensional materials, allowing not only controlled design and development of future printing electronics. Based on 2D materials, but and new types of flexible electronic devices.
“For example, our work paves the way for reliable wearable devices suitable for biomedical applications, such as remote patient monitoring, or bioimplanted devices for long-term monitoring of degenerative diseases or healing processes.”
These future devices could one day replace invasive procedures such as implantation of head electrodes to control degenerative conditions affecting the nervous system. Electrodes can only be implanted temporarily and are inconvenient for the patient, while a flexible device made of biocompatible 2D materials can be integrated with the brain and provide constant monitoring.
Other potential healthcare applications include wearable health monitoring devices – devices such as fitness watches but more integrated with the body, providing accurate enough data to allow doctors to monitor patients without taking them to the hospital for analysis.
The relationship identified by the team between the type of 2D material and the charge transfer control elements will help other researchers develop printed and flexible 2D material devices with the desired properties depending on how they need the electric charge to operate.
They could also reveal how to design completely new types of electrical components that are impossible with the use of silicon chips, such as transparent components or those that change and transmit light in a new way.
Co-author Professor Renato Ganelli of the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, said: “A fundamental understanding of how electrons are transported through networks of 2D materials is at the heart of how we produce printed electronic components. Defining the mechanisms responsible for such electronic transport. we will be able to achieve the optimal design of high-performance printed electronics. “
Co-author of the author Address Arbab of the Cambridge Graphene Center and the Department of Imperial Chemistry said: “In addition, our study could uncover new electronic and optoelectronic devices that use the innovative properties of graphene and other 2D materials such as incredibly high mobility, optical transparency and mechanical transparency. strength ”.