“Within 15 minutes of meeting Mark Hersam, PhD, a renowned nanotechnology expert and professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, Ethan Secor knew he wanted to work with him. Secor, a fifth year materials science and engineering PhD candidate, didn’t have a project in mind at the time, but when Hersam had an opening in his research group, he jumped right in — and hasn’t looked back.
Secor, from Stillwater, Minnesota, is developing graphene-based inks, which can be printed with traditional methods like inkjet printing. With the thickness of an atom, graphene is the thinnest material in the world — and one of its greatest potentials is its ability to be used as a conductor.
“For printed electronics, instead of printing red, green and blue inks, we’re printing conductors, semiconductors and insulators — different classes of electronically functional materials,” says Secor. “So instead of printing pictures, we’re printing electronic circuits.””