Researchers develop flexible transparent conductor free of reflection and scattering

December 20, 2016
Flexible Transparent Conductor is shown. Credit: ICFO

Transparent conductors are one of the key elements such electronic and optoelectronic devices as displays, light emitting diodes, photovoltaic cells and smart phones. Most of the current technology is based on the use of the semiconductor indium tin oxide (ITO) as a transparent conducting material. However, even though ITO presents several exceptional properties, such as a large transmission and low resistance, it still lacks mechanical flexibility, needs to be processed at high temperatures and is expensive to produce.

Reseachers seek alternative flexible TC materials that could definitively replace ITO. While the scientific community has investigated materials such as Al-doped ZnO (AZO), carbon nanotubes, metal nanowires, ultrathin metals, conducting polymers and graphene, none of these present optimal properties to replace ITO.

Today, ultrathin metal films (UTMFs) have been shown to provide very low resistance, although their transmission is also low; antireflection (AR) undercoat and overcoat layers are thus added to the structure. ICFO researchers have developed a room-temperature processed, multilayer transparent conductor optimizing the antireflection properties to obtain high optical transmissions and low losses with high mechanical flexibility properties. They have recently published their results in Nature Communications.

In their study, ICFO researchers applied an Al-doped ZnO overcoat and a TiO2 undercoat layer with precise thicknesses to a highly conductive Ag ultrathin film. By using destructive interference, the researchers showed that the proposed multilayer structure could lead to an optical loss of approximately 1.6 percent and an optical transmission greater than 98 percent in the visible spectrum. Prof. Valerio Pruneri says, "We have used a simple design to achieve a transparent conductor with the highest performance to date, and at the same time, other outstanding attributes required for relevant applications in industry." This result represents a record fourfold improvement in figure of merit over ITO and also presents superior mechanical flexibility in comparison to this material.

The results of this study show the potential that this multilayer structure could have in future technologies that aim at more efficient and flexible electronic and .

Explore further: New low-cost, transparent electrodes

More information: Rinu Abraham Maniyara et al. An antireflection transparent conductor with ultralow optical loss (<2 %) and electrical resistance (<6 Ω sq−1), Nature Communications (2016). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13771

Related Stories

New low-cost, transparent electrodes

June 27, 2013

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 ...

Recommended for you

Nanotube fiber antennas as capable as copper

October 23, 2017

Fibers made of carbon nanotubes configured as wireless antennas can be as good as copper antennas but 20 times lighter, according to Rice University researchers. The antennas may offer practical advantages for aerospace applications ...

Resistive memory components the computer industry can't resist

October 23, 2017

Make way for some new memsistors. For years, the computer industry has sought memory technologies with higher endurance, lower cost, and better energy efficiency than commercial flash memories. Now, an international collaboration ...

Taming 'wild' electrons in graphene

October 23, 2017

Graphene - a one-atom-thick layer of the stuff in pencils - is a better conductor than copper and is very promising for electronic devices, but with one catch: Electrons that move through it can't be stopped.

Breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale

October 20, 2017

A research team from the National University of Singapore has recently invented a novel "converter" that can harness the speed and small size of plasmons for high frequency data processing and transmission in nanoelectronics.

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.