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Ink-jet printed nanoparticle microelectromechanical systems

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3 Author(s)
S. B. Fuller ; Media Lab., MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA ; E. J. Wilhelm ; J. M. Jacobson

Reports a method to additively build three-dimensional (3-D) microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and electrical circuitry by ink-jet printing nanoparticle metal colloids. Fabricating metallic structures from nanoparticles avoids the extreme processing conditions required for standard lithographic fabrication and molten-metal-droplet deposition. Nanoparticles typically measure 1 to 100 nm in diameter and can be sintered at plastic-compatible temperatures as low as 300°C to form material nearly indistinguishable from the bulk material. Multiple ink-jet print heads mounted to a computer-controlled 3-axis gantry deposit the 10% by weight metal colloid ink layer-by-layer onto a heated substrate to make two-dimensional (2-D) and 3-D structures. We report a high-Q resonant inductive coil, linear and rotary electrostatic-drive motors, and in-plane and vertical electrothermal actuators. The devices, printed in minutes with a 100 μm feature size, were made out of silver and gold material with high conductivity,and feature as many as 400 layers, insulators, 10:1 vertical aspect ratios, and etch-released mechanical structure. These results suggest a route to a desktop or large-area MEMS fabrication system characterized by many layers, low cost, and data-driven fabrication for rapid turn-around time, and represent the first use of ink-jet printing to build active MEMS

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 1 )