The Use of Thin Films of Boron Nitride Nanotubes in Printable Electronics

C. Paquet, Y. Martinez-Rubi, M. Genest, J. Guan, B. Simard, P.R.L. Malenfanta
National Research Council of Canada,

Keywords: boron nitride nanotube, molecular inks, screen printing, intense pulsed light sintering, silver, heat dissipation, resistivity, current carrying capacity


Printed electronics aims to provide low cost and large area electronics by printing functional materials on low cost flexible substrates using conventional printing techniques. Printed conductors play a central role in device performance and as a result effort is directed at optimizing the formulation, printing and sintering processes of conductive inks. An approach currently gaining momentum is the use of molecular silver or copper inks sintered using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). [1–3] The molecular inks generate conductors with the required high electrical performance while IPL sintering provides a means to process these inks in sub-second timeframes on a roll-to-roll compatible format. Despite the benefits of this approach, IPL suffers from an important drawback; the energy required to convert molecular inks into a conductive metal trace is sufficient to cause damage to the surface of the plastic substrate which in turn compromises the performance of the conductive metal trace.[4] In this presentation, we describe the use of Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) as thin films on temperature-sensitive PET substrates as a means of mitigating damage imparted by IPL sintering.[5] Silver neodecanoate inks are screen printed and IPL-sintered on uncoated and BNNT-coated PET substrates to yield conductive silver traces. We show that the silver traces on BNNT-coated PET have significantly improved morphologies due to the BNNT layers minimizing thermal damage caused by IPL sintering, which in turn increases the conductivities of the silver traces by 40% and the current carrying capacity by 70%. In summary, the presentation will showcase the benefit of using BNNTs to increase the electrical performance of printed conductors. [1] C. Paquet, R. James, A. J. Kell, O. Mozenson, J. Ferrigno, S. Lafrenière, P. R. L. Malenfant, Org. Electron. physics, Mater. Appl. 2014, 15, 1836–1842. [2] Y. R. Jang, W. H. Chung, Y. T. Hwang, H. J. Hwang, S. H. Kim, H. S. Kim, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, 24099–24107. [3] I. Kim, K. Woo, Z. Zhong, P. Ko, Y. Jang, M. Jung, J. Jo, S. Kwon, S.-H. Lee, S. Lee, et al., Nanoscale 2018, 10, 7890–7897. [4] A. J. Kell, C. Paquet, O. Mozenson, I. Djavani-Tabrizi, B. Deore, X. Liu, G. P. Lopinski, R. James, K. Hettak, J. Shaker, et al., ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2017, 9, 17226–17237. [5] PCT/CA2018/051357