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Creators/Authors contains: "Francis, Lorraine F."

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  1. Abstract

    Resistors are basic yet essential circuit components that must be fabricated with high precision at low cost if they are to be viable for flexible electronic applications. Inkjet printing is one of many additive fabrication techniques utilized to realize this goal. In this work, a process termed self-aligned capillarity-assisted lithography for electronics (SCALE) was used to fabricate inkjet-printed resistors on flexible substrates. Capillary channels and reservoirs imprinted onto flexible substrates enabled precise control of resistor geometry and straightforward alignment of materials. More than 300 devices were fabricated using poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene):poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) as the resistive material and silver as the electrode material. By varying PEDOT:PSS ink formulation and resistor geometry, resistances spanning from 170 Ω to 3.8 MΩ were achieved. Over 98% of devices were functional and the standard deviation in resistance ranged from 3% to 18% depending on resistor length and ink composition. The resistors showed no significant change in resistance after 10,000 cycles of bend testing at 1.6% surface tensile strain. In summary, this work demonstrated a fully roll-to-roll (R2R) compatible process for inkjet printing resistors with superior properties.

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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 23, 2025
  3. Many natural organisms, such as fungal hyphae and plant roots, grow at their tips, enabling the generation of complex bodies composed of natural materials as well as dexterous movement and exploration. Tip growth presents an exemplary process by which materials synthesis and actuation are coupled, providing a blueprint for how growth could be realized in a synthetic system. Herein, we identify three underlying principles essential to tip-based growth of biological organisms: a fluid pressure driving force, localized polymerization for generating structure, and fluid-mediated transport of constituent materials. In this work, these evolved features inspire a synthetic materials growth process called extrusion by self-lubricated interface photopolymerization (E-SLIP), which can continuously fabricate solid profiled polymer parts with tunable mechanical properties from liquid precursors. To demonstrate the utility of E-SLIP, we create a tip-growing soft robot, outline its fundamental governing principles, and highlight its capabilities for growth at speeds up to 12 cm/min and lengths up to 1.5 m. This growing soft robot is capable of executing a range of tasks, including exploration, burrowing, and traversing tortuous paths, which highlight the potential for synthetic growth as a platform for on-demand manufacturing of infrastructure, exploration, and sensing in a variety of environments. 
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  4. Capillary flow of liquids plays a key role in many applications including lab-on-a-chip devices, heat pipes and printed electronics manufacturing. Open rectangular microchannels often appear in these applications, with the lack of a top resulting in a complex free-surface morphology and evaporation. In this work we develop a theoretical model based on lubrication theory and kinetically limited evaporation to examine capillary flow of evaporating liquid solutions in open rectangular microchannels connected to circular reservoirs. The model accounts for the complex free-surface morphology, solvent evaporation, Marangoni flows due to gradients in solute concentration and temperature and finite-size reservoir effects. Significant differences are predicted in flow behaviour between pure liquids and liquid solutions due to solvent evaporation and solute transport. Marangoni flows are found to promote more uniform solute deposition patterns after solvent evaporation. Model predictions of meniscus position evolution are in good agreement with prior capillary-flow experiments of aqueous poly(vinyl alcohol) solutions in the presence of evaporation. The model reveals that the principal mechanism through which evaporation influences the meniscus position in the experiments is the increase in viscosity with solute concentration. 
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  5. Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) are widely used in optoelectronic devices such as flat-panel displays and solar cells. A significant optical property of TCOs is their band gap, which determines the spectral range of the transparency of the material. In this study, a tunable band gap range from 3.35 eV to 3.53 eV is achieved for zinc oxide (ZnO) nanocrystals (NCs) films synthesized by nonthermal plasmas through the removal of surface groups using atomic layer deposition (ALD) coating of Al2O3 and intense pulsed light (IPL) photo-doping. The Al2O3 coating is found to be necessary for band gap tuning, as it protects ZnO NCs from interactions with the ambient and prevents the formation of electron traps. With respect to the solar spectrum, the 0.18 eV band gap shift would allow ~4.1% more photons to pass through the transparent layer, for instance, into a CH3NH3PbX3 solar cell beneath. The mechanism of band gap tuning via photo-doping appears to be related to a combination of the Burstein–Moss (BM) and band gap renormalization (BGN) effects due to the significant number of electrons released from trap states after the removal of hydroxyl groups. The BM effect shifts the conduction band edge and enlarges the band gap, while the BGN effect narrows the band gap. 
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  6. Spontaneous capillary flow of liquids in narrow spaces plays a key role in a plethora of applications including lab-on-a-chip devices, heat pipes, propellant management devices in spacecrafts and flexible printed electronics manufacturing. In this work we use a combination of theory and experiment to examine capillary-flow dynamics in open rectangular microchannels, which are often found in these applications. Scanning electron microscopy and profilometry are used to highlight the complexity of the free-surface morphology. We develop a self-similar lubrication-theory-based model accounting for this complexity and compare model predictions to those from the widely used modified Lucas–Washburn model, as well as experimental observations over a wide range of channel aspect ratios $\lambda$ and equilibrium contact angles $\theta _0$ . We demonstrate that for large $\lambda$ the two model predictions are indistinguishable, whereas for smaller $\lambda$ the lubrication-theory-based model agrees better with experiments. The lubrication-theory-based model is also shown to have better agreement with experiments at smaller $\theta _0$ , although as $\theta _0\rightarrow {\rm \pi}/4$ it fails to account for important axial curvature contributions to the free surface and the agreement worsens. Finally, we show that the lubrication-theory-based model also quantitatively predicts the dynamics of fingers that extend ahead of the meniscus. These findings elucidate the limitations of the modified Lucas–Washburn model and demonstrate the importance of accounting for the effects of complex free-surface morphology on capillary-flow dynamics in open rectangular microchannels. 
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