Research Papers

Inkjet Printing of Radio Frequency Electronics: Design Methodologies and Application of Novel Nanotechnologies

[+] Author and Article Information
Taoran Le

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA 30332
e-mail: taoran.le@ece.gatech.edu

Ziyin Lin, Ching-ping Wong

School of Materials Science and Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA 30332

Manos M. Tentzeris

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA 30332

Manuscript received February 24, 2012; final manuscript received October 18, 2012; published online March 26, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Kyoung-sik Moon.

J. Electron. Packag 135(1), 011007 (Mar 26, 2013) (14 pages) Paper No: EP-12-1030; doi: 10.1115/1.4023671 History: Received February 24, 2012; Revised October 18, 2012

We discuss here the use of inkjet printing technology as an attractive alternative for the fabrication of radio frequency (RF) electronics. Inkjet printing is compared to widely-used traditional methods such as wet etching and mechanical milling with discussion of the advantages and potential disadvantages afforded by the technology. Next the paper presents the current state of the art for RF printed electronics, including fundamental fabrication technologies, methodologies, and materials. Included are detailed discussions of the fabrication of foundational conductive elements, integration of external elements via low temperature bonding techniques, and enhancement strategies focusing on the addition of novel materials. We then present some current challenges related to inkjet printing, along with some exciting recent advances in materials technology seeking to overcome the current limitations and to expand the frontier of the technology. Following are multiple examples detailing the successful use of inkjet printing methods in the creation of novel RF devices, providing proof of concept and illustrating in greater detail the concepts presented in the theoretical sections.

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Fig. 1

Dimatix DMP2800 materials printer

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Fig. 2

Inkjet printed conductor on paper-based substrate

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Fig. 3

Ink printed out of a series of nozzles on the print head

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Fig. 4

(a) Printed conductive ink layer with a volume of 1 pL. (b) Printed conductive ink layer with a volume of 10 pL.

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Fig. 5

The SEM images of a layer of printed silver nanoparticle ink, after 15 min sintering at (a) 100 °C, and (b) 150 °C

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Fig. 6

The IC component mounting process on inkjet printed silver pads

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Fig. 7

Printed array of SRRs forming an artificial magnetic surface

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Fig. 8

Reflection phase of the incident wave off of the artificial magnetic surface

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Fig. 9

(a) Single layer COA of rhombic loops, (b) 3D-stacked RF-COAs of rhombic loops, and (c) RF-COA as a random trajectory of pixels

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Fig. 10

Circuit layout of the RF-COA reader and its first fabricated version

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Fig. 11

Inkjet printed RF-COAs

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Fig. 12

Effect of the conductive material density on the frequency response across Tx/Rx coupling at C3/D2 with six COAs, with COA1 being the densest and COA6 the sparsest

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Fig. 13

System level diagram of the paper-based wireless sensor modules

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Fig. 14

Active RFID-based wireless sensor module on the paper substrate using inkjet printing technology [4]

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Fig. 15

The RTSA measured ASK modulated signal for the dipole-based module from a distance of 4.26 m (power versus frequency)

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Fig. 16

The ASK modulated temperature sensor data captured by the RTSA at room temperature (power versus time)

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Fig. 17

Photograph of the inkjet-printed SWCNT films with silver electrodes. The number of SWCNT layers of the samples from top to bottom are 10, 15, 20, and 25, respectively.

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Fig. 18

Measured DC resistance of SWCNT gas sensors in air. Red dot indicates the resistance of the SWCNT device when printed with the 1016 dpi setting.

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Fig. 19

Measured impedance characteristics of the SWCNT film at the UHF band

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Fig. 20

Inkjet printed RFID sensor tag prototype embedded with the SWCNT film on a flexible paper substrate

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Fig. 21

The calculated power reflection coefficient of the RFID tag antenna with a SWCNT film before and after the gas flow

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Fig. 22

Mechanism of the interaction of the PABS-SWCNT with NH3. The arrows indicate the charge transfer between the SWCNT and PABS [13].

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Fig. 23

The CNT film placed at the edge of printed silver lines

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Fig. 24

The input reflection coefficient at the connecter coaxial feed in different scenarios (50 ppm ammonia concentration)

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Fig. 25

The RFID tag module design on a flexible circuit with the inkjet-printed SWCNT film as a load

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Fig. 26

The calculated power reflection coefficient of the RFID tag antenna with a SWCNT film before and after the gas flow

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Fig. 27

The resonance peak of the return loss shifts to lower frequencies over time

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Fig. 28

Measurement plot of the resonant frequency shift versus the concentration of NH3 gas

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Fig. 29

The CNT test samples of 25, 50, 75, and 100 layers (left to right)

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Fig. 30

(a) Response as a function of the concentration taken after stabilization, and (b) timing response for NH3 and NO2 using a concentration of 10 ppm at 864 MHz and 2.4 GHz




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