MMaterialsgateNEWS 2013/06/28

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New low-cost, transparent electrodes

A durable, multilayered thin film is a possible replacement for expensive indium-based electrodes in devices such as liquid crystal displays and solar cells

Indium tin oxide (ITO) has become a standard material in light-emitting diodes, flat panel plasma displays, electronic ink and other applications because of its high performance, moisture resistance, and capacity for being finely etched. But indium is also rare and expensive, and it requires a costly deposition process to make opto-electronic devices and makes for a brittle electrode. Replacing indium as the default material in transparent electrodes is a high priority for the electronics industry.

Now, in a paper appearing in APL Materials, a new open-access journal produced by AIP Publishing, researchers report creating a sturdy, transparent, and indium-free electrode from silver (Ag) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) that could replace indium-based electrodes in some applications.

"Silver and titanium are much more abundant than indium in the earth's crust, and so we anticipate that electronic devices based on silver and titanium dioxide would be a more sustainable materials system and be manufactured at a low cost," said T.L. Alford, a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Arizona State University who led the research.

The TiO2/Ag/TiO2 composite electrode multilayer film the researchers studied has been well characterized in the literature, but the team optimized both the thickness of the silver layer and the manufacturing process so that the multilayer film has a low sheet resistance and high optical transmittance, both properties necessary for high-performance.

The researchers created films with a sheet resistance as low as one sixth of that achieved by previous studies, while maintaining approximately 90 percent optical transmittance. With the choice of an underlying substrate made of polyethylene napthalate (PEN) -- a sturdy polymer used in a variety of applications from bottling carbonated beverages to manufacturing flexible electronics -- the researchers added additional durability.

Because of a less expensive manufacturing process and the wide availability of titanium dioxide, silver and PEN, the new TiO2/Ag/TiO2 thin film could one day help make devices such as electronic displays and solar cells more affordable by replacing more expensive indium-based electrodes.

Source: American Institute of Physics – 27.06.2013.

Investigated and edited by:

Dr.-Ing. Christoph Konetschny, Inhaber und Gründer von Materialsgate
Büro für Material- und Technologieberatung
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MMore on this topic

Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology (UNIST) has demonstrated that a live rabbit could wear contact lenses fitted with inorganic light-emitting diode with no side effects. This new class of hybrid transparent and stretchable electrode paves the way for flexible displays, solar cells, and electronics.

UNIST scientists have combined graphene with silver nanowires to form a thin, transparent and stretchable electrode which overcome the weaknesses of each individual material, resulting in a new class of electrodes with widespread possible applications including picture taking and scanning using soft contact lenses. Transparent electrodes have been widely used in things like touch screens, flat-screen TVs, solar cells and light-emitting devices. Commonly made from indium tin oxide(ITO), it is brittle and cracks thus losing functionality if flexed. It also degrades over time, and is expensive due to the limited quantities of indium metal. As an alternative, the networks of randomly distributed... more read more

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