Silver nanowire inks for direct-write electronic tattoo applications†
Room-temperature printing of conductive traces has the potential to facilitate the direct writing of electronic tattoos and other medical devices onto biological tissue, such as human skin. However, in order to achieve sufficient electrical performance, the vast majority of conductive inks require biologically harmful post-processing techniques. In addition, most printed conductive traces will degrade with bending stresses that occur from everyday movement. In this work, water-based inks consisting of high aspect ratio silver nanowires are shown to enable the printing of conductive traces at low temperatures and without harmful post-processing. Moreover, the traces produced from these inks retain high electrical performance, even while undergoing up to 50% bending strain and cyclic bending strain over a thousand bending cycles. This ink has a rapid dry time of less than 2 minutes, which is imperative for applications requiring the direct writing of electronics on sensitive surfaces. Demonstrations of conductive traces printed onto soft, nonplanar materials, including an apple and a human finger, highlight the utility of these new silver nanowire inks. These mechanically robust films are ideally suited for printing directly on biological substrates and may find potential applications in the direct-write printing of electronic tattoos and other biomedical devices.