Pen writes circuits on the fly for easy and creative electronics.
Electronics enthusiasts, computer modders and tinkerers could soon have an instant-fix tool in their armoury after engineers at the University of Illinois developed a pen that “writes” circuits.
According to the researchers, the silver-inked rollerball pen can write electrical circuits and interconnects on paper, wood and other surfaces to create instant electronics.
“Pen-based printing allows one to construct electronic devices 'on-the-fly',” said Jennifer Lewis, the director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at Illinois.
“This is an important step toward enabling desktop manufacturing (or personal fabrication) using very low cost, ubiquitous printing tools.”
The secret of the pen's potential lies in the “ink” contained inside - a solution of real silver that dries to leave conductive pathways.
The paper-mounted wires are flexible enough to be folded, and the pen could also potentially be used to join damaged circuits or modify hardware.
The engineers said the pen's freestyle conductive pathways also offered possibilities in art, disposable electronics and folded three-dimensional devices.
The researchers demonstrated a flexible LED display on paper, with the lights connected by hand-drawn silver lines.
The researchers have yet to make a commercial product available.