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Issue 43, 2018
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A general gelation strategy for 1D nanowires: dynamically stable functional gels for 3D printing flexible electronics

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Abstract

3D printing of functional inorganic nanowires has been accomplished using extruded nanowire-based inks obtained by incorporating nanofillers into polymeric matrices or thickeners. However, the presence of inactive additives poses a critical challenge for fully realizing the functionality of the nanowires in the printed structures, which remains a fundamental hurdle to overcome. Here, to construct 3D-printed electronics with high performance, we developed a versatile gelation strategy to obtain thixotropic nanowire gels through formation of dynamically stable 3D networks using small amounts of flexible, water-soluble and single-layer 2D nanosheets, such as graphene oxide and MXene, as physical cross-linkers. The nanosheets can knot-tie and stabilize the nanowire junctions in the aqueous suspension, leading to the formation of stable and thixotropic gels with viscosities up to ∼80 000 Pa s at 0.01 s−1 in the absence of polymer thickener. Gels of varioius metallic and semiconductive nanowires have been successfully prepared and printed into 3D and self-supported architectures via extrusion-based 3D-printing. The synergism of nanowires and nanosheets not only conquers the restraints of harsh post-treatments to remove additives after printing, but also maximizes the functionality of the nanowires in the printed architectures. The printed 3D structures solidified by ambient drying, coagulation, or freeze-drying exhibit remarkable functionalities. For example, the electrical conductivity of the 3D-printed silver nanowire-based architectures can reach 40 000 S cm−1. The feasibility of these functional nanowire gels was demonstrated by fabricating a series of printed flexible electronics via extrusion-based 3D-printing.

Graphical abstract: A general gelation strategy for 1D nanowires: dynamically stable functional gels for 3D printing flexible electronics

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Aug 2018, accepted on 12 Oct 2018 and first published on 15 Oct 2018


Article type: Communication
DOI: 10.1039/C8NR06369A
Citation: Nanoscale, 2018,10, 20096-20107
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    A general gelation strategy for 1D nanowires: dynamically stable functional gels for 3D printing flexible electronics

    S. Liu, X. Shi, X. Li, Y. Sun, J. Zhu, Q. Pei, J. Liang and Y. Chen, Nanoscale, 2018, 10, 20096
    DOI: 10.1039/C8NR06369A

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