So you’re sitting at your desk, and you’re trying to draw out electrical circuits on a piece of paper, which would mean that if you were hoping to test out your idea, you’d have to re-draw those circuits out again, except this time you’d require some sort of conductive material. Well not any more, thanks to the University of Illinois, who have developed a silver-inked ballpoint pen that would allow users to jot down electrical circuits on paper, wood and other surfaces.


It looks just like a regular ballpoint pen, except that instead of regular blue/black ink, the ink is actually made out of silver, which when dried leaves electrically conductive silver pathways. What this means is that should you decide to draw out a circuit on a piece of paper, as long as the there are no breaks in the ink or paper, the entire pathway will remain conductive, and in the case of paper, flexible too! This will supposedly aid in the creation of low-cost and flexible disposable electronic devices.

While silver ink is nothing new as it has been seen in printers before, the fact that it can be found in a ballpoint pen adds a level of freedom and flexibility to the user, allowing them to come up with working ideas on the fly, instead of having to go back to their home or office. Not just limited to electrical engineers or hobbyists, the pen also has the potential for artists, bringing their art to “life” and adding new dimensions to their work. In the case of the painting “Sae-Han-Do” by Jung Hee Kim, the researchers used the ink as wiring for an LED light, which was then mounted onto the painting.

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