Following the recent breathrough of the US company Kovio in printing nanosilicon transistors in thousands with much smaller size and better performance than printed polymer transistors we now have 3D printing of silicon, a completely different process.
These printers can produce entire objects. They are already coming down in price, and new versions can make electronic circuit boards and entire functional circuits. They have even been used to print silicon chips.
Masahiro Furusawa of Seiko Epson Corporation in Japan and his colleagues, inkjet polysilane, a polymer of silicon and hydrogen, then cure it at 200 degrees centigrade to drive out the hydrogen and leave crystalline silicon. The silicon printer does not produce chips with as fine a level of detail but as a conventional silicon chip it might reduce the cost of low-resolution silicon devices such as display circuitry and solar cells, says the company.
Like the Kovio process, the high curing temperature means low cost flexible polymer film substrates cannot be used but reel to reel production on eg stainless steel film is realistic.
Source of top image Seiko Epson Corporation
For more information attend Printed Electronics Europe 2008 also read Printed and Thin Film Transistors and Memory 2007-2027 and Inorganic Printed and Thin Film Electronics.