New method for processing nanomaterials

Engineers at Rutgers University and Oregon State University are developing a new approach to nanomaterials that makes it possible to manufacture flexible thin-film devices from touchscreens to window coatings faster and cheaper.
This method, known as “strong pulsed light sintering,” fuses nanomaterials in seconds with high energy rays that are nearly 7,000 times larger than lasers.
Existing pulsed light fusion methods incorporate silver nanospheres into a conductive structure using a temperature of approximately 250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit). But the new study, published in RSC Advances, from the Rutgers School of Engineering, shows that the material fusion at 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit) works well while retaining the conductivity of the molten silver nanomaterial.
Engineers’ achievements start with different shapes of silver nanomaterials: in addition to nanospheres, there are long, thin rods called nanowires. The drastic reduction in temperature required for fusion allows the use of low cost, temperature sensitive plastic substrates such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polycarbonate in flexible equipment without damaging them. Pulsed light nanomaterial sintering technology enables the rapid manufacture of flexible devices with economies of scale.
Molten silver nanomaterials are used for electrical conduction in devices such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, display devices, and solar cells. The flexible form of these products relies on the fusion of conductive nanomaterials on flexible substrates or platforms such as plastics and other polymers.
In another study published in the Science Report, the researchers demonstrated pulsed photo sintering of copper sulfide nanoparticles (a type of semiconductor) to produce thin films less than 100 nanometers thick. The researchers pointed out: “We can complete this fusion in two to seven seconds, and now other technologies usually take minutes to hours. We also show how to use pulsed light fusion to control the electrical and optical properties of the film.”
The study shows that their discovery accelerates the manufacture of copper sulfide films used to control window coatings for solar infrared lamps, transistors and switches. This work was funded by the American Science Foundation and the Wal-Mart Manufacturing Innovation Foundation.

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