Cracked screens. If it hasn’t already happened to you, it probably will one day. That’s because the coating for electronics like touchscreens and plasma TVs in use today are made of indium tin oxide, making them brittle and likely to shatter. Well, researchers are saying they’ve developed a transparent electrode that could make smartphone screens shatterproof.
A University of Akron team led by Yu Zhu patterned a conductive metal film into a transparent metal nanowire network, and then they put the resulting mesh on a clear polymer substrate.
To demonstrate how much torture their transparent layer of electrodes on the polymer surface could withstand, they subjected the material to repeated bending and scotch tape peeling tests. That’s when you stick a piece of tape on a surface, fold one end back, and then hold that end to rip the tape off at about 180 degrees. The material also survived being bent 1,000 times.
The tough, flexible film provides the same degree of transparency as indium tin oxide (ITO), yet provides more conductivity. And it’s also cheaper than ITO to manufacture, especially since it can be cranked out cheaply in mass-quantity rolls. “We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor,” Zhu says in a news release. “The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen.”
[Via University of Akron]