A new switching device for printed electronics: inkjet-printed microelectromechanical relay

Nano Lett. 2013;13(11):5355-60. doi: 10.1021/nl4028632. Epub 2013 Oct 8.


Printed electronics employing solution-processed materials is considered to be the key to realizing low-cost large-area electronic systems, but the performance of printed transistors is generally inadequate for most of the intended applications due to limited performance of printable semiconductor materials. We propose an alternative approach for a printed switch, where the use of semiconductors can be avoided by building mechanical switches with printed metal nanoparticle-based inks. In this work, we detail the first demonstration of inkjet-printed microelectromechanical (MEM) switches with abrupt switching characteristics, very low on-state resistance (~10 Ω), and very low off-state leakage. The devices are fabricated using a novel process scheme to build three-dimensional cantilever structures from solution-processed metallic nanoparticles and sacrificial polymer layers. These printed MEM switches thus represent a uniquely attractive path for realizing printed electronics.