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Aerosol Jet Printing for Devices in Nuclear Environments

Faculty Member: Dave Estrada

The demand for novel electronic devices with increased functionality and reduced footprints is driving innovations in advanced manufacturing methods which integrate electronic circuits directly onto physical packaging. One such method with emerging industrial impact is aerosol jet printing (AJP). This additive electronics manufacturing technique has recently been used to print conformal sensors, antennas, shielding and other active and passive components within the cellular telephone and aerospace industries. Rapid advancements in nanoparticle based inks is advancing the direct printing of electronics and energy storage/conversion devices onto three-dimensional substrates. Developing an understanding of the performance of such AJP materials in a nuclear environment is a next logical step to accelerate the modernization and enhanced functionality of the nuclear industry’s sensors and instrumentation; in turn reducing effort and costs directed at maintaining obsolete controls systems.

Student Research Experience: Working in collaboration with INL’s High Temperature Test Laboratory, students will synthesize and characterize nanoparticle based inks compatible with nuclear environments. They will also investigate the effects of irradiation, high temperature, and high pressure on printed nuclear sensors in order to elucidate fundamental knowledge about structure-property-processing correlations of additively manufactured electronic devices and systems operating under extreme conditions. Examples of printed sensors include aerosol jet printed thermocouples, melt wires, strain gauges, and dosimeters.