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electrical circuits

A flexible printed circuit

Paper antenna made with inkjet printer acts as a sensor

Rob Felt / Georgia TechPaper antenna made with inkjet printer acts as a sensorRob Felt / Georgia Tech

Scientists have been working for some time now to develop a technology that uses standard inkjet printers to fabricate electrical circuits on flexible substrates. These circuit boards are the basic structures to which the electronic components in such devices as mobile phones and computers are attached. A group of researchers from Georgia Tech and Microsoft Research, both in the United States, and Tokyo University, in Japan, has apparently achieved the objective. One of the prototypes made by the team is a small wireless antenna in the shape of two leaves attached to an arrow, which could be used in commercial or military applications, such as temperature sensors or leak detectors, for example. Using an inkjet printer, a conductive material composed of a mixture of silver nanoparticles, in place of regular ink, is deposited on a substrate that can be made of paper, plastic, or ceramic. The new method uses principles derived from origami to fashion complex structures, like sensors and antennas, which can reconfigure themselves, folding and moving in response to electromagnetic signals. The researchers, who received a $2,000,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States, reported on the results of their project at a conference of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), held in Switzerland in September 2013.