Examples of these products include efficient light detectors, and devices that are able to store information encoded in binary form, which have been demonstrated, in collaboration with the University of Pisa.
Current ink formulations, which would allow heterostructures to be made by simple and low-cost methods, are said to be far from ideal - either containing toxic solvents or requiring time-consuming and expensive processes. In addition, none of these are optimised for heterostructure fabrication.
The Manchester team led by Professor Cinzia Casiraghi has developed a method of producing water-based and inkjet printable 2D material inks, which can be used for the fabrication of a range of heterostructures by fully exploiting the design flexibility offered by a simple technique such as inkjet printing. The inks are also biocompatible, which extends their possible use to biomedical applications.
Prof Casiraghi said: “Due to the simplicity, flexibility and low cost of device fabrication and integration, we envisage this technology to find potential in smart packaging applications and labels, for example for food, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, where thinner, lighter and cheaper and easy to integrate components are needed”.
Daryl McManus, PhD student added: “These inks provide a perfect platform to fully exploit the range of properties of 2D materials by allowing for the first time a precise and scalable method for fabrication of devices of arbitrary complexity utilising 2D materials.”