Reversible Conductive Inkjet Printing of Healable and Recyclable Electrodes on Cardboard and Paper

Abstract Conductive inkjet printing with metal nanoparticles is irreversible because the particles are sintered into a continuous metal film. The resulting structures are difficult to remove or repair and prone to cracking. Here, a hybrid ink is used to obviate the sintering step and print interconnected particle networks that become highly conductive immediately after drying. It is shown that reversible conductive printing is possible on low-cost cardboard samples after applying standard paper industry coats that are adapted in terms of surface energy and porosity. The conductivity of the printed films approaches that of sintered standard inks on the same substrate, but the mobility of the hybrid particle film makes them less sensitive to cracks during bending and folding of the substrate. Damages that occur can be partially repaired by wetting the film such that particle mobility is increased and particles move to bridge insulating gaps in the film. It is demonstrated that the conductive material can be recovered from the cardboard at the end of its life time and be redispersed to recycle the particles and reuse them in conductive inks.