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Paper, print media and biomaterials

LGP2, a center of innovative research
LGP2, a center of innovative research

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Patents for the use of nanocellulose in printed electronics

Published on May 28, 2015
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Two recent patents bear witness to the significant advances achieved thanks to the research of the Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Science and Graphic Arts (LGP2) in the field of nanocellulose and its applications.

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Since October 2013, under the supervision Julien Bras and Aurore Denneulin, Associate Professors at Grenoble INP-Pagora, and in partnership with local firm Poly-Ink, PhD student Fanny Hoeng has worked on improving the properties and performance of conductive silver inks through the use of nanocellulose.

In printed electronics, ink made from spherical silver nanoparticles has, until now, been the best solution for achieving high conductivity. However, its high cost, the sintering process, the fragility of printed films and their lack of transparency tend to restrict the use of this conductive ink in industry.

To get round these issues, a new conductive ink made from cellulose nanocrystals has been devised. These stretched-out biosourced nanoparticles are an innovative way of fulfilling the requirements of printed electronics while remaining compatible with inkjet and other printing processes. Indeed, using nanocellulose leads to a stable suspension and network of silver nanoparticles. Moreover, nanocellulose also allows for the manufacture of silver nanotube structures. To do so, a biotemplating technique is applied using cellulose nanocrystals as catalyst carriers. These are ideal given their large specific surface area.
Patented in August 2014, this ink is now marketed by Poly-Ink under the name PolyBioCell.

In addition, the materials used to make printed electronic devices on different substrates (polymer film, glass, etc.) sometimes require high levels of transparency while retaining their conductivity. Incorporating silver nanofibres into the ink appears to be a good alternative to the use of indium tin oxide (ITO) in solar photovoltaic power generation, as they enable the creation of conductive transparent networks offering a comparable level of performance. Problems relating to their instability in ink and their lack of cohesion with the substrate were resolved by devising an innovative process involving the use of a specific type of nanocellulose.

This was recently patented and was the topic of a presentation at the Printed Electronics conference in April 2015. This silver nanofibre-based ink is a bona fide revolution in the field and is already being marketed by Poly-Ink under the name PolyBioWire. Made from biosourced materials, it allows the production of conductive transparent films, which are sold by the same company.

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Date of update May 28, 2015

Grenoble INP Institut d'ingénierie Univ. Grenoble Alpes