New options for transparent contact electrodes

January 29, 2013
New options for transparent contact electrodes
The nanowires have diameters around 0.1 micrometers and lenghts between 5 and 10 micrometers. Credit: Bild: ACS Nano 3: 1767-1774

Found in flat screens, solar modules, or in new organic light-emitting diode (LED) displays, transparent electrodes have become ubiquitous. Typically, they consist of metal oxides like In2O3, SnO2, ZnO and TiO2.

But since raw materials like indium are becoming more and more costly, researchers have begun to look elsewhere for alternatives. A new review article by HZB scientist Dr. Klaus Ellmer, published in the renowned scientific journal , is hoping to shed light on the different advantages and disadvantages of established and new materials for use in these kinds of contact electrodes.

Metallic (Ag or Cu) or carbon based nanostructures exhibit many interesting properties that could potentially be exploited pending further research. Even graphene, a modified form of carbon, could turn out to be a suitable , since it is both transparent and highly conductive. These properties depend, to a large extent, on the material's composition: graphene, which consists of a single layer of arranged into a hexagonal "honeycomb" grid, is two-dimensional, and, within these dimensions, electrons can freely move about.

According to Ellmer, "these new kinds of materials could be combined with more conventional solutions or find their way into entirely new areas of application." For this to become a reality, researchers have yet to come up with solutions to nanostructure problems like short circuits and continue to illuminate the relevant transport mechanisms. It would also be interesting to determine whether these two-dimensional "electron gases" also form in materials other than graphene. Success ultimately depends on whether or not the new materials prove stable in the long run in their practical application and whether or not they can be produced relatively inexpensively.

Explore further: Super material will make lighting cheaper and fully recyclable

More information: Ellmer is sole author of an extensive review article published in Nature Photonics online on 30. November 2012, doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.282

Related Stories

Graphene electrodes for organic solar cells

January 6, 2011

A promising approach for making solar cells that are inexpensive, lightweight and flexible is to use organic (that is, carbon-containing) compounds instead of expensive, highly purified silicon. But one stubborn problem has ...

Scientists find simple way to produce graphene

June 20, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at Northern Illinois University say they have discovered a simple method for producing high yields of graphene, a highly touted carbon nanostructure that some believe could replace silicon as the ...

Recommended for you

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode

July 29, 2015

A team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and Columbia University has passed a major milestone in molecular electronics with the creation of the world's highest-performance single-molecule diode. Working at Berkeley Lab's Molecular ...

Better together: graphene-nanotube hybrid switches

August 2, 2015

Graphene has been called a wonder material, capable of performing great and unusual material acrobatics. Boron nitride nanotubes are no slackers in the materials realm either, and can be engineered for physical and biological ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.