April 23-26, 2018 | Fort Worth Convention Center | Fort Worth, TX | Exhibits April 24-26

3D Printing of Soft Electronics & Functional Microfluidics via Liquid Metal Direct-Writing

Direct Write Printed Materials / Electronics

Intermediate May 9, 2017 2:45 pm - 3:10 pm

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Dishit P. Parekh, PhD Student, North Carolina State University

Gallium-based liquid metal alloys offer the electrical and thermal benefits of various metals like gallium and indium, combined with the ease of printing due to its low viscosity (~2x water). Despite having high surface tension (~10x water), these metals build mechanically stable structures due to the formation of a thin (~3 nm thick) surface oxide. The oxide skin is passivating, forms spontaneously in presence of air or dissolved oxygen on the surface of the metal and allows us to direct-write planar as well as free-standing, out-of-plane conductive microstructures down to a resolution of ~10 microns, on-demand, using a 4-axis pneumatic dispensing robot customized from a desktop CNC machine at relatively low pressures (~10s of kPa). We have demonstrated rapid prototyping of functional electronics such as flexible and stretchable antennas for radio-frequency defense communications, as well as consumer-based electronic devices like inductive power coils for wireless charging of smartphones and wearable thermoelectric generators for energy-harvesting applications. We have also exhibited the patterning of 3D multilayered microchannels with vasculature using these printed liquid metals as a sacrificial template at room-temperature that can be employed in numerous lab-on-a-chip devices to enable inexpensive fabrication of personalized healthcare sensors.

Dishit P. Parekh

PhD Student
North Carolina State University

Dishit Parekh received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of