Oct 6, 2013

Off topic: SenSprout 2d printed nanoparticle electronic circuits for air and soil moisture sensing

Printing technologies are expanding further. SenSprout is a device for monitoring air and soil moisture in order to optimize agricultural production and irrigation management. It is produced by printing the electronic circuits on paper with silver nanoparticles. It is powered by ambient radio frequencies (it harvests 2,4 GHz frequencies) and transmits data on same frequency.
I wonder how practical it would be for real life application since it looks fragile, it is currently deployed and tested. Even if not practical, concept is excellent technology demonstrator: downloadable printable sensors powered with surround electromagnetic radiation. Cool!
They use commercially available inkjet printers and commercially available conductive ink from Mitsubishi.
Project by: Yoshihiro Kawahara

SenSprout printed moisture sensor deployed (source:Wired)

I think this is Mitsubishi silver nanoparticle ink they mentioned: http://www.mitsubishiimaging.com/digital-imaging-diamond-jet-NANOINK.html

Applications of 2d printed electronic circuits are infinite, similar to 3d printing. Hopefully this technology will soon expand into DIY space. There are many corporate and academic developments in conductive inks, but conductive ink can be also produced in DIY / home lab setting (this one doesn't work on paper):

Ink video by NurdRage