I have stumbled upon these instructions on how to create $\ce{ZnO}$ nanoparticles.

I am interested in making a DIY ink, for use with a parallel metal plate pen and a piezo-actuated microdrop nozzle.

My question is:

What is a reasonable way of controlling the viscosity of such an ink? Is it possible to replace the water with a mixture of water and isopropanol, for example?

  • $\begingroup$ Sure ink usually includes the following ingredients: petroleum distillate solvent, linseed oil, some form of organic pigments, and soybean oil. If an ink has a linseed oil base, it will dry through air oxidation. When alcohol is present, the ink will dry through evaporation. Considering that I wonder if glycerol would be a good candidate for your dye? $\endgroup$
    – Cody Aldaz
    Apr 28, 2020 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ Idea: As you have photoactive ZnO, mix it with clear aqueous (NH4)2SO4 (from MgSO4 + ammonia, remove white Mg(OH)2 precipitate). Then, use it as a finger paint (ink) to write on colored paper (best dark colors). Let dry. Place in strong sunlight after very litely spraying with a B12/water mix. Should reveal your written (with your finger) message as the moist chemicals bleach the dark paper. $\endgroup$
    – AJKOER
    Apr 28, 2020 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ How useful would white ink be ? $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2020 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Tartrate Printing electronics is of increasing interest. Did you consider a publication like 2020Crystals449 (open access) as an entry for further literature survey? $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    May 23, 2021 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


Regular black ink is pretty viscous it has a dynamic viscosity ($\eta$) of 4.177.

In comparison a 50% mixture of methanol and glycerol has a viscosity of 5.8

Some other solvents to consider are

  • Hexanol which has a viscosity of about 5.4
  • Heptanol which has as viscosity of about 7.3

These long-chain alcohols, however, will not dissolve significantly in water.

Some more viscosity data can be found here (it's not an ideal place for viscosities but it is free)

Linseed oil is also not water soluble. In any case here is another link

Ultimately it seems like you'd need to try a few different mixtures to get desired viscosity, solubility and evaporation speed.


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