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Research Papers

Laser-Based Fabrication of Carbon Nanotube–Silver Composites With Enhanced Fatigue Performance Onto a Flexible Substrate

[+] Author and Article Information
Zheng Kang

School of Mechanical Engineering,
Purdue University,
585 Purdue Mall,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: kang214@purdue.edu

Benxin Wu

School of Mechanical Engineering,
Purdue University,
585 Purdue Mall,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: wu65@purdue.edu

Ruoxing Wang

School of Industrial Engineering,
Purdue University,
315 N. Grant Street,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: wang2990@purdue.edu

Wenzhuo Wu

School of Industrial Engineering,
Purdue University,
315 N. Grant Street,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: wenzhuowu@purdue.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received September 30, 2017; final manuscript received February 10, 2018; published online June 28, 2018. Editor: Y. Lawrence Yao.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 140(9), 091005 (Jun 28, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: MANU-17-1606; doi: 10.1115/1.4039492 History: Received September 30, 2017; Revised February 10, 2018

Flexible electronic devices involve electronic circuits fabricated onto a flexible (e.g., polymer) substrate, and they have many important applications. However, during their use, they often need to go through repeated deformations (such as bending). This may generate cracks in metallic components that often exist in a flexible electronic device and could obviously affect the device durability and reliability. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have a potential to enhance the metal fatigue properties. However, the previous work on the fabrication of CNT–metal composites onto a flexible substrate has been limited. This paper reports the research work on a novel laser-based approach to fabricate CNT–metal composites onto a flexible substrate, where mixtures containing CNTs and metal (silver) nanoparticles (NPs) are deposited onto the substrate through a dispensing device and then laser-sintered into CNT–metal composites. Under the studied conditions and for the tested samples, it has been found that overall the addition of CNTs has significantly enhanced the bending fatigue properties of the laser-sintered material without degrading the material electrical conductivity (which has actually been slightly increased). The laser-based approach has several potential advantages, such as the local, precise, and flexible production of CNT–metal composite patterns with small or little thermal effects to the flexible substrate and other surrounding regions, and without using a mask or vacuum. Future work is certainly still needed on this novel fabrication process.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic diagram of the fabrication process to produce CNT–silver composite lines onto a polyimide film (not drawn to scale, not all components or details given, and the demonstrated details not necessarily exact; there is a plastic layer below the polyimide film for mechanical support)

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Fig. 2

An SEM image of silver nanoparticles purchased for this work (some silver nanoparticles are put into acetone, and a certain amount of the formed suspension is dropped onto a copper tape, and the SEM observation is made after the acetone is evaporated)

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Fig. 3

Schematic diagram of the experimental setup for the fatigue bending tests: (a) isometric view; (b) and (c) side view (not drawn to scale, not all components or details given, and the demonstrated details not necessarily exact)

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Fig. 4

Scanning electron microscope images of the sintered CNT–silver composite: (a) laser power: ∼0.4 W, single scan and (b) laser power: ∼0.4 W, double scans

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Fig. 5

The measured electrical resistivity of laser-sintered silver lines and CNT–silver composite lines produced under different laser powers of ∼0.29 W to ∼0.40 W by (a) single laser scan and (b) double laser scans

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Fig. 6

The normalized electrical resistivity versus the number of bending cycles obtained from the fatigue bending tests for laser-sintered silver lines and CNT–silver composite lines in different test groups (the “normalized” electrical resistivity is for the region of x = −2.5 to +2.5 mm for each line; the laser power, number of scans, and line thickness for each group are shown in Table 1; data points when the normalized resistivity is above 100 are not shown)

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Fig. 7

The fatigue life (in terms of the number of bending cycles) for each tested group of laser-sintered silver and CNT–silver composite lines based on the failure criterion of the normalized resistivity (as given in Fig. 6) reaching 10 (the point with an upward-pointing arrow means that the normalized resistivity is still below the failure criterion at the maximum number of bending cycles tested in the experiment, and hence, this maximum number is plotted here, but the actual fatigue life should be longer)

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Fig. 8

Scanning electron microscope images of the CNT–silver composite line in the tested group 7 after the fatigue bending test (i.e., after being bent for ∼2800 cycles)

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Fig. 9

Scanning electron microscope images of the silver line in the tested group 7 after the fatigue bending test (i.e., after being bent for ∼580 cycles)

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Fig. 10

(a) Cross section profile for an as-printed silver NP+ CNT line (an averaged profile measured using a white-light interferometer over a 0.5 mm long section of the line) and (b) SEM image of another as-printed silver NP + CNT line (the lines are dispensed onto a polyimide surface, and then dried, but not sintered)

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