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Simulation of two nanoparticle melting to understand the conductivity drop of 3D-printed silver nanowires

by Phani Teja V Kuruganti, Pooran C Joshi, Monojoy Goswami
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Materials & Design
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The future flexible sensor technology will require low-temperature, fast processing 3D printing techniques that will rely heavily on the quality of nanoparticle (NP) Ink. Electrical conductivity has been found to decrease in majority of the 3D printed electronic wires. Herein we report a fundamental understanding in drop of electrical conductivity in processed silver (Ag) line wire, generally found in Ag-nanoparticle Ink, using large-scale atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of sintering of five different sizes of Ag NPs. To preserve the high conductivity of pure silver wires, the integrity of the pristine face-centered cubic (FCC) crystalline structure must be retained in the processed line wires. Simulations show that the pristine Ag FCC structures of the nanoparticles are not recovered after melting and resolidification, instead, the resolidified material is paracrystaline. The breakdown of pristine FCC structures might be the cause of the drop in conductivity of processed Ag wires. Simulation results suggest that the intermediate size nanoparticles retain highest percentage of the pristine silver face-centered cubic (FCC) structure after pulse treatments. Our results show that the most promising Ag-Ink should contain smaller to medium size silver NPs that can retain FCC structure after 3D printing of the Ag-Ink.