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Inkjet catalyst printing and electroless copper deposition for low-cost patterned microwave passive devices on paper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-676
Number of pages8
JournalElectronic Materials Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


A scalable, low-cost process for fabricating copper-based microwave components on flexible, paper-based substrates is demonstrated. An inkjet printer is used to deposit a catalyst-bearing solution (tailored for such printing) in a desired pattern on commercially-available, recyclable, non-toxic (Teslin®) paper. The catalystbearing paper is then immersed in an aqueous copper-bearing solution to allow for electroless deposition of a compact and conformal layer of copper in the inkjet-derived pattern. Meander monopole antennas comprised of such electroless-deposited copper patterns on paper exhibited comparable performance as for antennas synthesized via inkjet printing of a commercially-available silver nanoparticle ink. However, the solution-based patterning and electroless copper deposition process avoids nozzle-clogging problems and costs associated with noble metal particle-based inks. This process yields compact conductive copper layers without appreciable oxidation and without the need for an elevated temperature, post-deposition thermal treatment commonly required for noble metal particle-based ink processes. This low-cost copper patterning process is readily scalable on virtually any substrate and may be used to generate a variety of copper-based microwave devices on flexible, paper-based substrates.


  • antennas, copper metallization, flexible and recyclable substrates, inkjet printed electronics, paper-bearing electronics, RF devices