Near-IR sintering of conductive silver nanoparticle ink with in situ resistance measurement


Metal nanoparticle inks are excellent options for printing low-resistance metal conductors and electrical interconnects. However, after deposition, these inks require high-temperature annealing to sinter and increase conductivity. Infrared (IR) heaters are an efficient, roll-to-roll compatible method to apply thermal energy. Here, we characterize the effect of near-infrared (N-IR) heating on the structure and properties of printed silver nanoparticle ink (UTD Ag40x, UT Dots Inc.). A method was developed to measure the resistance and temperature of printed conductive inks as a function of exposure to the IR heater. The N-IR heater was found to sinter the Ag40x silver samples (lower the resistance of 7 mm printed lines to 1000 Ω) in 11.6 ± 1.5 min at maximum intensity with a large drop from the highest measured resistance (60 MΩ) to 1000 Ω in 1.2 ± 0.2 min. Decreasing the heater power increased the time to reach 1000 Ω (to 28.3 ± 2.0 min at 80%), but reducing from 60 MΩ to 1000 Ω still only took 1.9 ± 0.3 min. This suggests sintering progresses rapidly once initiated. SEM images of the ink before and after IR heating show microstructural changes associated with sintering and indicate the role of agglomerates and organic binders in impeding sintering.

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This work was initially supported by the Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (MURI Award No. N00014-11-1-0690) and then by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award No. CMMI-1634263). K. S. J. gratefully acknowledges support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. (00039202). D. J. K. thanks the donors to the Scriven Undergraduate Research Fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation for support. The authors thank F. Zare Bidoky for significant help with aerosol jet printing. The authors thank Adphos North America for providing the Adphos IR heater used in these studies. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program. Portions of this work were conducted in the Minnesota Nano Center, which is supported by the National Science Foundation through the National Nano Coordinated Infrastructure Network (NNCI) under Award Number ECCS-1542202.

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Correspondence to Lorraine F. Francis.

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Presented at the 19th International Coating Science and Technology Symposium, September 16–19, 2018, in Long Beach, CA.

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Keller, D.J., Jochem, K.S., Suszynski, W.J. et al. Near-IR sintering of conductive silver nanoparticle ink with in situ resistance measurement. J Coat Technol Res 16, 1699–1705 (2019).

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  • Infrared sintering
  • Silver nanoparticle ink
  • In situ resistance measurements
  • Aerosol jet printing