Academics look at UV curing to solve conductivity issues with graphene inks
UV curing could be the answer to creating printed batteries and other energy storage devices using conductive graphene ink, according to researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Currently it is only possible to 3D print storage structures using 'semi-graphene' inks, whose carbon and graphite elements markedly reduce the potential conductivity. Using current methods, inks that are wholly graphene need to be cured for significant periods between layers, making its use impractical. To resolve this, a £500,000 EPSRC-funded project led by Professor Craig Banks has been announced to test UV curing as a potential process for allowing such inks to be cured almost instantly.
"At the moment it takes ages to make anything above the micron level, so we want to shine a UV light onto the ink as it is printed, to cure it in situ and ensure it holds its structural integrity," comments Banks.
"Ultimately, we could all print our own batteries from a 3D printer in our office or home. You could imagine just clicking in a cartridge containing graphene-conductive ink, and manipulating it into a unique structure."