(Invited) A Printed Carbon Nanotube Sensor on a Flexible Substrate

Tuesday, 7 October 2014: 08:00
Sunrise, 2nd Floor, Galactic Ballroom 8 (Moon Palace Resort)
R. P. Tortorich, T. H. da Costa, E. Song, and J. W. Choi (Louisiana State University)
Printing becomes an emerging manufacturing technology for mechanics, electronics, and consumer products.  Carbon nanotubes have recently been used as a material for sensors and electrodes due to their unique electrical and mechanical properties. Printed electrodes and conductive traces particularly offer versatility of fabricating low-cost, disposable, and flexible sensors and devices. While screen-printing has been a conventional method for printing conductive traces and electrodes, inkjet-printing recently attracts a wide attention due to its unique advantages including no template requirement, rapid printing at low cost, on-demand printing capability, and precise control of the printed material. Computer generated conductive trace or electrode patterns can simply be printed on a flexible substrate with proper conductive ink. However, for inkjet-printing of nanotubes to form conductive traces and electrodes, there are few challenges that need to be addressed. One is nanotube dispersion in an ink base solution while others include adjusting surface tension and controlling viscosity of the ink and treating the surface of the printing substrate. This work presents carbon nanotube ink preparation and its demonstration in chemical sensing along with our recent achievements.

It is essential to disperse carbon nanotubes to make a carbon nanotube ink. In our previous work, we have demonstrated an inkjet printed electrochemical sensor using an office HP inkjet printer and a carbon nanotube ink. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) was used as a dispersant and a surfactant in preparing the carbon nanotube ink. It should be noted that that a ratio of SDS concentration and carbon nanotube concentration would be an important factor determining the sheet resistance of a printed carbon nanotube pattern. A preliminary test result confirmed that there would be an optimum SDS:CNT ratio. For flexible sensor applications, sheet resistance change of the printed carbon nanotube patterns on a flexible substrate was measured for varying curvatures of the substrate. For a curvature up to 0.36 cm-1, the sheet resistance increase was less than 2.5% showing that the printed carbon nanotube patterns could be used for a flexible and printed sensor. Using the developed technologies, a fully printed carbon nanotube sensor on a flexible substrate will be demonstrated for chemical and biological sensing.