Given their prevalence, there is a decent chance you do not think about the potential inkjet printers have for doing more than just printing out directions or homework. Indeed many researchers have been looking to them for high speed, repeatable production of devices by swapping out ink cartridges for other liquids. Now researchers at Northwestern University have replaced ink with a graphene solution, allowing them to print graphene-based electronic patterns.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon with extraordinary electrical and physical properties, making it of great interest to numerous researchers. Producing large quantities of high quality graphene though can be difficult, and that impedes some development with it. The Northwestern researchers however found a way to produce graphene flakes at room temperature using ethanol and ethyl cellulose. These flakes were then combined with a solvent to create a printable ink that is 250 times more conductive than previous attempts at graphene ink.
While the high conductivity of graphene certainly makes this research interesting, its flexibility and strength adds to the printed circuits' potential as they can be used in future, flexible devices. Thanks to the scalability of inkjet printing, such devices could possibly be made quite cheaply, once they ready for production.
Source: Northwestern University