The traditional electronics manufacturing process is poised for a paradigm shift away from expensive photolithography toward inkjet technology.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are enabling this paradigm shift due to their high conductivity and nanoscale size. This combination enables the production of new inks that create the needed conductive paths at much smaller feature sizes than is currently possible.
At CNano Technology in Californian USA, researchers have developed a unique catalytic process that allows the production of carbon nanotubes in a continuous mode with tonnage capacity - at a lower cost. The Company has already scaled up their manufacturing technology to reach a production capacity of 500 tons per year for multiple wall carbon nanotubes.
With the new process the agglomerates can be distributed into a variety of matrix including liquid, polymer, metal, ceramics and more. The patented technology outshines many traditional processes to make carbon nanotubes, where yield is low and is restricted by process limitations to batch production.
Although CNTs have inherently outstanding physical properties, incorporating them into other material matrixes can be a challenge due to its agglomerate form and surface chemistry of carbon. In order to fully utilize the properties of the individual nanotubes, these materials are needed to be evenly dispersed into the desired matrixes. Utilization of surfactant or functionalization can also improve interaction between nanotubes and dispersant so as to achieve maximum dispersion performance.
The carbon nanotube products are being evaluated by selected customers for markets that include electronics, automotive and energy storage.
Commercial applications include:
*Conductive plastics for electronics and automotive
*Structural composites for sporting goods and aerospace
*Conductive coatings for displays and aerospace
*Electrodes for batteries and super capacitors among others
Carbon nanotube benefits include:
*Flexible and durable printing
*Simplified manufacturing that eliminates masking steps
*Allowing for high speed manufacturing processes
*Nanoscale size that delivers next generation circuit features
The Company plans to further leverage the 500 ton plant for additional products to be rolled out in the near future. The company is based in Santa Clara, California with manufacturing located in China.
Reference: CNano Technology
For more attend Printed Electronics Europe 2010