Supramolecular approach to new inkjet printing inks


Electronically complementary, low molecular weight polymers that self-assemble through tuneable π-π stacking interactions to form extended supramolecular polymer networks have been developed for inkjet printing applications and successfully deposited using three different printing techniques. Sequential overprinting of the complementary components results in supramolecular network formation through complexation of π-electron rich pyrenyl or perylenyl chain-ends in one component with π-electron deficient naphthalene diimide residues in a chain-folding polyimide. The complementary π-π stacked polymer blends generate strongly coloured materials as a result of charge-transfer absorptions in the visible spectrum, potentially negating the need for pigments or dyes in the ink formulation. Indeed, the final colour of the deposited material can be tailored by changing varying the end-groups of the π electron rich polymer component. Piezoelectric printing techniques were employed in a proof of concept study to allow characterisation of the materials deposited, and a thermal inkjet printer adapted with imaging software enabled a detailed analysis of the ink-drops as they formed, and of their physical properties. Finally, continuous inkjet printing allowed greater volumes of material to be deposited, on a variety of different substrate surfaces, and demonstrated the utility and versatility of this novel type of ink for industrial applications

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