Inkjet printing of precisely defined features using contact-angle hysteresis.

Research paper by Dan D Soltman, Ben B Smith, S J S SJ Morris, Vivek V Subramanian

Indexed on: 11 Apr '13Published on: 11 Apr '13Published in: Journal of Colloid and Interface Science


Motivated by the process of inkjet printing of electronics, we study experimentally and theoretically the processes limiting the printing of sharply defined, equilibrium corners. Using a non-volatile ionic liquid, we inkjet print squares with rounded corners on a substrate of roughened, display-grade glass. We show experimentally that with increasing roughness, corner radius decreases, allowing more precisely defined features to be printed. To interpret these results in terms of contact-angle hysteresis (difference between the advancing and retreating contact angles θA and θR), we implement the following model with the Surface Evolver program. With drop volume fixed, we minimize drop surface energy subject to a prescribed contact line. We identify θA and θR as the minimum and maximum contact angles around the drop perimeter. We find that with decreasing corner fidelity, contact-angle hysteresis also decreases. We are thus able to infer θR from the corner radius of printed features. We conclude that increasing contact-angle hysteresis allows the printing of more precisely defined features.