Nanostructure Tuning of Gold Nanoparticles Films via Click Sintering

Massimo Urban, Giulio Rosati, Gabriel Maroli, Flavio Della Pelle, Andrea Bonini, Laszlo Sajti, Mariangela Fedel, Arben Merkoçi. Small

Colloidal metal nanoparticles dispersions are commonly used to create functional printed electronic devices and they typically require time-, energy- and equipment-consuming post-treatments to improve their electrical and mechanical properties. Traditional methods, e.g. thermal, UV/IR, and microwave treatments, limit the substrate options and may require expensive equipment, not available in all the laboratories. Moreover, these processes also cause the collapse of the film (nano)pores and interstices, limiting or impeding its nanostructuration. Finding a simple approach to obtain complex nanostructured materials with minimal post-treatments remains a challenge. In this study, a new sintering method for gold nanoparticle inks that called as “click sintering” has been reported. The method uses a catalytic reaction to enhance and tune the nanostructuration of the film while sintering the metallic nanoparticles, without requiring any cumbersome post-treatment. This results in a conductive and electroactive nanoporous thin film, whose properties can be tuned by the conditions of the reaction, i.e., concentration of the reagent and time. Therefore, this study presents a novel and innovative one-step approach to simultaneously sinter gold nanoparticles films and create functional nanostructures, directly and easily, introducing a new concept of real-time treatment with possible applications in the fields of flexible electronics, biosensing, energy, and catalysis.