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INSPIRED Informe resumido

Project ID: 646155
Financiado con arreglo a: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INSPIRED (INdustrial Scale Production of Innovative nanomateRials for printEd Devices)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 hasta 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The purpose of the INSPIRED project is to develop and demonstrate cost-effective, innovative high throughput synthesis and functionalization of nanomaterials already validated in the laboratory (e.g. currently at TRL 4) for printed electronic systems using high volume printing techniques which surpass currently available printing technologies. We will achieve this through development of high performance, cost effective nanomaterial formulations in a range of commercial applications in relevant industrial environments (TRL6) against the relevant industrial standards and end user applications:

The core of the research activities of the INSPIRED project is:

(i) Development of independent synthesis routes for nano-copper, AgNW and graphene (lab scale and then industrial scale quantities for end users)
(ii) Development and optimisation of the high throughput printing and processing systems
(iii) Demonstration of the functional nanomaterials within three exemplar end use systems in relevant industrial environments - capacitive touch screens, CIGS solar cells and LCD displays.

Throughout the project we will consider safe-by-design approaches and will conduct nanosafety assessments at each step of the production process (from BioNanoNet) in partnership with nanomaterials producers (IML, Nanogap, SWAN), equipment and process developers (JOR and M-Solv) and end users (TNx, Nexcis/Midsummer and EuroLCDs) with technology support from the Universities of Bologna and Santiago de Compostela. Additional support in printing development, safety and analysis will be provided by Tecnalia. Dissemination activities will be led by the NIA.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The processes occurring in the plasma used in the production of nanocopper are extremely complex, so advanced modelling work was carried out to understand the processes occurring in the plasma and the production rig. A review of the production has also identified methods to make the particle production more cost effective. Scaling up of the process is underway. Copper nanoparticles have been formulated into a range of inks for inkjet, aerosol jet and screen printing.

The production yield of the standard grade silver nanowires was almost doubled. A new grade with higher transparency has been produced and taken from laboratory to pilot scale, with even greater throughput and efficiency. The reproducibility of the nanowires produced has also been improved. The transparency properties of the nanowires improve further when they are made with a narrower diameter. On the laboratory scale further tuning of the reaction conditions and materials has produced an even thinner variety of silver nanowires with exceptionally good transparency. Sprayable coatings of the silver nanowires have been formulated.

The scaling up of the manufacturing capability of Elicarb® Graphene materials, from a starting point of a few grams per day up to approximately 25 kg/day quantities is now complete. Optimization of the process has enabled the process to become more efficient, reducing operating costs and process waste. Three different grades of graphene platelets have been produced with different particle sizes. Water/alcohol-based graphene dispersions have been produced, as well as resistive and conductive screen inks.

Testing and optimization of printing and deposition methods for the nanoparticle inks has been carried out on the touchscreen, signage and solar cell substrates.
An advanced laser treatment has been developed to sinter the copper inks for good conductivity. Laser equipment has also been used to create fine line patterns, both in nanocopper ink and in silver nanowire coatings. A large pilot scale inkjet and sintering apparatus is being constructed.

A test prototype touchscreen device was produced using screen printed lines of nanocopper ink. The device is functioning, although still requires further work to optimize performance. Nanocopper inkjet ink is also being tested in this application.

Spray deposited silver nanowires have been assessed in for LCD applications. Commercially available silver nanowires did not have sufficient transparency, but initial indications are that the nanowires being produced in this project will be much better. Protective coatings are being investigated for enhancing the durability. Copper busbars have also been successfully printed.

Screen printed copper lines have shown good adhesion to the surface of CIGS solar cells, and good conductivity when laser sintered. One remaining issue to solve is the precise alignment of the laser during sintering to avoid damage to the cell. Silver nanowires were shown to have the transparency and conductivity to partially or wholly replace ITO as the top layer.

Preliminary nano-safety assessments have been carried out, and protocols established for a more thorough risk analysis when the production methods and materials are more established.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Some of the main points of progress beyond the state of the art are as follows:

• A new exfoliation method for producing graphene with scale up to pilot production

• An advanced model has been developed for the plasma synthesis of copper nanoparticles.

• New nanocopper based inkjet inks have been developed with improved performance on ITO.

• New formulations of laser-sinterable copper pastes have demonstrated greater conductivity and adhesion than have been achieved previously.

• New improved optical designs for laser sintering have been developed.

• The pilot scale inkjet and sintering apparatus under construction will be the first of its kind.

• The first demonstration of working copper interconnects for CIGS solar cells has been made

• Highly transparent and conductive nanowires have been developed and scaled up to pilot production volumes.

• The first demonstration of working silver nanowire touch sensor has been formed by spray coating and laser pattering.

• Silver nanowire top contacts for CIGS cells have also been demonstrated.

The above developments beyond the state of the art have led to eleven patent applications and two scientific publications to date. Seventy six dissemination activities have taken place to date.

The immediate impact will be on the advancement of the production of the nanomaterials, manufacture and performance of inks for printed electronics as well as the equipment for printing and processing these materials, and the advancement of their potential uses in touchscreens, displays and CIGS solar cells. In the longer term the project will have a direct positive impact across the entire printed electronics sector value chain, benefiting the nanomaterial suppliers, ink manufacturers, printing companies and equipment suppliers and the high value manufacturing sectors. The printed electronics developed from these nanoparticles will reduce the impact to the environment of hazardous chemicals used in current electronics processing. The health and safety assessments in INSPIRED will lead to guidelines for the safe use and production of the nanomaterials.

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