Breakthrough in ‘recipe’ for inkjet printing of new graphene-like materials

Breakthrough in ‘recipe’ for inkjet printing of new graphene-like materials enables high-volume manufacturing of next-generation lasers and optoelectronic devices


In this research, stable black phosphorous (BP) ink with high performance was demonstrated to overcome the obstacles of BP fabrication. The printed BP optical device employed in fiber lasers and detectors presents excellent performance. The research opens up new opportunities for graphene-like material-based optoelectronics and photonics applications, making it possible large-scale manufacturing of next-generation photonic and optoelectronic devices.




Fig. Functional BP ink for inkjet printing and its long term stable application in ultrafast lasers and broadband photodetectors


Black phosphorous (BP) is a particularly interesting post-graphene new nanomaterial that offers many opportunities for new laser and photonic devices. Yet despite remarkable performance in laboratories, real-world exploitation of this unique material has been hindered by complex material fabrication and its poor environmental stability.

A breakthrough made by Meng Zhang from Beihang University and researchers from the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and Zhejiang University, now offers hope of overcoming this obstacle. By carefully optimizing the chemical composition through the balance of complex and competing fluidic effects, stable ink compatible with conventional inkjet printing techniques was produced. This ‘recipe’ enabled the production of new functional optoelectronic devices by high-speed printing with excellent print quality and uniformity - just like the printing of intricate graphics or photographs on paper, making possible for the first time the large-scale manufacturing of BP-based photonic and optoelectronic devices.

The researchers’ work demonstrated the benefits of their novel technique by inkjet printing devices that take advantage of BP’s remarkable properties, not least its semiconducting bandgap that can be readily varied by engineering the number of atomic layers and can cover the visible and near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The printed BP-based nonlinear optical devices can be easily inserted into lasers to act as ultra-quick optical shutters, converting a continuous beam of laser radiation into a repetitive series of very short bursts of light (or pulses) highly suited to industrial and medical applications, such as machining, drilling, imaging and sensing. The nonlinear optical device design using BP achieves significantly better performance and operational stability than any other previous demonstrations. The team also demonstrated the ability of BP to act as an efficient and highly-responsive detector of light, extending the wavelength range over which conventional silicon-based photodetectors can operate.

The unique way to exploit this new two-dimensional material opens up many new opportunities for optoelectronics and photonics applications. More importantly, the BP ink can be seamlessly integrated with existing CMOS technologies, the inkjet printing technique developed offering tantalizing prospects of supporting the fabrication of so-called heterostructured materials that aim to capitalize on the benefits of distinct, yet complementary properties of multiple nanomaterial layers through controlled fabrication.

The researchers’ work was published in Nature Communications [8, 278 (2017)].



Meng Zhang, associate professor, school of electronics and information engineering, Beihang University, E-mail:



Hu, G. H., T. Albrow-Owen, X. X. Jin, A. Ali, Y. W. Hu, R. C. T. Howe, K. Shehzad, Z. Y. Yang, X. K. Zhu, R. I. Woodward, T. C. Wu, H. Jussila, J. B. Wu, P. Peng, P. H. Tan, Z. P. Sun, E. J. R. Kelleher, M. Zhang, Y. Xu & T. Hasan (2017) Black phosphorus ink formulation for inkjet printing of optoelectronics and photonics. Nature Communications, 8, 10.

Link to the paper: