Published: 07 January 2020

PhD student publishes research on eco-friendly printed electronics

Barbara Salonikidou, who is undertaking a PhD in Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute, has developed an innovative, cost-effective way of printing electronics which could lead to highly versatile tactile sensors with applications in biomedical devices and robotics.

The research, undertaken in collaboration with Yamagata University in Japan, was published by the American Chemical Society and demonstrates a method of inkjet-printing electronics which are versatile, energy efficient and low cost. This differs from conventional fabrication techniques for electronics which involves harsh chemicals and substantial waste of materials.

Specifically, these newly demonstrated devices have the unique property of imitating the way in which connections between biological neurons behave. Connecting them into electronic systems will ultimately allow information processing in analog fashion, in contrast to conventional digital circuits, enabling efficient, brain-like computation.

The project is partly funded by EPSRC, as well as the Royal Society through the International Exchange programme which enabled Barbara to spent four months at Yamagata University, where she was able to draw on the institution’s expertise in novel techniques for flexible and printed electronics.

Barbara explained, “Our simple technique produces electronic devices which remember their operating history. These are ideal for applications where you don’t need a long-term memory, but rather a processing memory, such as in replicating the complex sense of touch with electronic skin.”

“The behaviour of these devices has many things in common with systems that are fabricated with sophisticated techniques. I hope that this research will attract attention to these kinds of printing techniques which tend to be underestimated, because even such simple fabrication processes can lead to very interesting functionality.”

Dr Radu Sporea, who is supervising Barbara’s PhD, said, “Barbara is methodically spearheading research into printed memristive devices in our team at Surrey, broadening our interest in flexible electronics and placing us in a good position to create elegant, low-power functional sensor systems. Her work is the strongest link yet in our collaboration with Professor Tokito's group at Yamagata University, which is supported by a Royal Society International Exchange Grant.”

The next stage of Barbara’s research will be to explore the electrical behaviour of the devices through statistical analysis over a larger scale.

The paper, ‘Toward Fully Printed Memristive Elements: a-TiO2 Electronic Synapse from Functionalized Nanoparticle Ink’, was published by the American Chemical Society in December.


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