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Viability of 3-D printing semiconductors of Zinc Antimonide in transistors

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Revision as of 04:15, 16 October 2013 by M.Knudsen (Talk | Contributions) (Method of Printing Transistors)

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Asi.png This page was part of a project for MY3701 -- an MTU class on semiconductors.

This page is now open edit -- please fix mistakes or feel free to leave comments using the discussion tab.


Our team is trying to develop a way to print a Zinc Antimonide (ZnSb) semiconductor transistor.


  • Team
  • Brief description of the semiconductor material with a link to the manufacturer(s) or suppliers

Benefits of 3D Printing

The core benefit of using the 3D printing approach of electronic device creation is the flexibility that is inherent to the process. Provided suitable materials and schematics are available it is possible to build any combination of devices. The transistor is a small but very potent part of this flexibility. Once a suitable transistor is designed, numerous electronic circuits of interest can then be fabricated such as logic gates, amplifying circuits and device control switches. Not only can these devices be created, they can be scaled to suit specific needs.

It would be possible then for a suitably equipped 3D printer to not only be able to print "smart" parts that could electronically interface with each other, but to also build control circuits used to run the printers. Some applications could include building control board for running newer versions of 3D printers that not only handle the operational control functions of running stepper motors and controlling current to the extrusion head, but also sensing capabilities that could be directly integrated into the components used to build the printers. integrating sensing circuits into printed components would allow for feedback signals that could permit higher quality parts to be printed with less waste due to part scrapping.

Method of Printing Transistors

The bulk of the 3D printed part can be constructed using traditional extrusion methods to build up the surfaces and component as desired. The printing of the transistor and associated trace leads would require the creation of a flat smooth surface. To achieve this desired surface after creating the plane where the transistor is to be located, several layers of polyurethane should be used to fill in small surface defects left behind by previous passes with the extrusion head. 

The simplest solution to applying the polyurethane is to use a modified Ink-Jet printing cartridge. The purpose of the inkjet head is to provide a controllable fine droplet pattern similar to that achieved by a spray head used for coating surfaces with polyurethane. The layers should be applied in successive passes avoiding delays between each layer to ensure that the layers fully bond to each other and to allow the liquid polyurethane to "float" the surface to achieve as smooth and flat a surface as desired.

Once the flat surface is achieved the ZnSb semiconductor can be applied to create the semiconductor N-P-N junction. Additionally silver ink (need Xerox reference here) may be applied to create conductive traces to carry the signals to and from the transistor. Both the silver ink and the transistor material will need to be cured after application. One possible method of curing the material is the use of a small radiant heating element fitted to the extrusion carriage so that the heat may be applied only where desired to avoid unnecessary thermal input back into the previously extruded material

Materials Required

Material Source Cost MSDS
Zinc Powder ScienceLab $0.18/g [1]
Antimony Powder ScienceLab $4.16/g [2]
α-terpineol ScienceLab $0.20/ml [3]
Copper Granular ScienceLab $0.71/g [4]

Steps of Synthesizing

Doping the ZnSb with copper will create a p-type material. To do this a combination of heating, quenching, and ball-mill crushing will be implemented. All the granular metals (Zinc, Antimony, and Copper) will be together in a container and placed in a furnace. With the furnace set at 1073K for 24 hours, with the occasional rocking. The granular pieces after the furnace will be left to cool at room temperature. Using a ball-milling machine with an argon atmosphere for 1-1.5 hours to finely crush the granulars, similar to the process in [5]. To get a printable viscosity a process similar to [6]. For this we will use the chemicals α-terpineol and DisperBYK-110. For every 10 grams crushed ZnSb 10 milliliters of α-terpineol will be used and 1 milliliter of DisperBYK-110 and make sure that it is mixed well. Doping the ZnSb with

Dia Workflow

  • Alisha
  • Create a diagram in Dia outlining your workflow to summarize the steps, and the

equipment, processes, chemicals, steps involved. Show alternate paths and discuss the optimal route and the metrics for choosing it.


  • Alisha
  • A detailed BOM of the chemicals used to make it with links to sources and prices in a

table - and total cost.

Purification Methods

  • Robert
  • Outline purification methods and the methods needed to obtain acceptable purity for your



  • Robert
  • A description of the testing procedures, equipment and specifications for the equipment

used to determine if you obtained your target compound.

Material Properties

  • Robert
  • A list of best in class material properties for your ink.


  • Nate
  • Discuss the characterization methods and how they could be adapted for in-situ analysis.


  • Nate
  • List and describe applications of this semiconductor if it is printed.

Electronic Diagram

  • Nate
  • Make a basic diagram for an electronic device that could use this semiconductor and post

diagram in your project page.


  • Mike
  • Design the semiconductor portion of the device in OpenSCAD, paste the code directly

into your project page


  • Mike
  • Post the STL of your design and a link to the STL on your project page.


Alisha Clark Robert Cooley Nathaniel Musser Michel Knuden
user:Alishac user:Rjcooley user:Namusser user:M.Knudsen