RESEARCHERS with the University of Akron has developed a transparent electrode that could act as a shatterproof display for smartphones.
Yu Zhu, assistant professor of polymer science at the University of Akron, said the new transparent electrode could replace current touch displays, which are mostly fabricated by coating glass with indium tin oxide (ITO).
ITO coatings are more brittle, more likely to shatter, and increasingly costly to manufacture. The new approach, involves patterning conductive metal films into transparent metal nanowire networks by using electrospun fibers as a mask.
The metal nanowire-based transparent electrodes were fabricated on both rigid glass and flexible polyethylene terephthalate (PET) substrates. The result is an extremely tough and flexible display material capable of withstanding repeated peeling and bending tests.
Zhu notes that the new film provides the same degree of transparency as ITO, yet offers greater conductivity. The film retains its shape and functionality after tests in which it has been bent 1,000 times. It can also be fabricated in mass quantities for economical scaling up.
“We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor,” Zhu says.
The team’s findings are published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Nano in the article titled “A Tough and High-Performance Transparent Electrode from a Scalable and Transfer-Free Method.”