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A team led by Dr Taw­fique Hasan at the Cam­bridge Graphene Cen­tre has de­vel­oped a new way of print­ing us­ing graphene-based ink. Al­though sev­eral graphene print­ing meth­ods have been demon­strated be­fore, Hasan’s team is the first to achieve the kind of print­ing speeds that will be needed for the process to be­come com­mer­cially vi­able. Tiny par­ti­cles of graphene are sus­pended in a ‘car­rier’ sol­vent mix­ture, which is then mixed with con­duc­tive, wa­ter-based ink. The printed ma­te­rial’s re­sis­tance can be con­trolled by vary­ing the ra­tio of the in­gre­di­ents, and the same method could also be used to cre­ate inks based on other types of metal­lic, semi­con­duct­ing or in­su­lat­ing par­ti­cles. Cur­rently, most printed cir­cuits are made from a mix­ture of car­bon and sil­ver. By sub­sti­tut­ing graphene ink, such cir­cuits could be printed more quickly, would be less harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment and would be up to 25 times cheaper to pro­duce. Sug­gested ap­pli­ca­tions in­clude the pro­duc­tion of ‘in­tel­li­gent’ pack­ag­ing and dis­pos­able biosen­sors.

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