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Work function and conductivity of inkjet-printed silver layers: Effect of inks and post-treatments

: Mitra, D.; Mitra, K.Y.; Dzhagan, V.; Pillai, N.; Zahn, R.T.; Baumann, R.R.


Journal of Electronic Materials 47 (2018), Nr.3, S.2135-2142
ISSN: 0361-5235
ISSN: 1543-186X
Fraunhofer ENAS ()

The electronic properties of a printed layer are influenced by a number of factors, including the nature of the ink (nanoparticle- or solution-based), ink composition (solvents, additives, concentration), and post-treatment technologies, especially sintering. One of the major challenges in the field of printed electronics is achieving the desired performance, for example, in terms of conductivity, resistivity, or work function (WF). This work investigates the dependence of sheet resistance and WF on various sintering methodologies. Four different silver nanoparticle inks were inkjet-printed on a flexible polymeric foil and post-treated by thermal sintering (in an oven) or novel sintering processes using infrared or intense pulsed light. The surfaces of the printed and sintered layers were investigated optically, and various inhomogeneities in the layer surface were observed, varying from a smooth to a highly rough appearance with ring-shaped drying structures. An analysis of the sheet resistance revealed notable variation among the various inks and sintering methodologies used. Here, for the very first time, WF is measured and evaluated as a function of sintering methodology and silver ink, and the respective layer formation characteristics realized with the inkjet printing technology. The WF values obtained by ultraviolet photoemission show a similar spread and allow unambiguous trends to be tracked with respect to the type of ink and sintering method used. The values of the WF obtained range from 3.7 eV to 4.3 eV, approaching the reported bulk values of 4.3–4.7 eV. The various silver inks resulted in different WFs when the same sintering method was used, while the same silver ink resulted in different WFs when various sintering methods were applied. Therefore, it is believed that the WF can be tuned over a broad range in a controlled manner to satisfy electronic device requirements.