Flexible Touchscreens

Flexible Touchscreens: Displays are Coming!

Today, most of touchscreen displays found on the market use Iridium Tin Oxide for a coating due to the combination of electrical conductivity and optical transparency it offers. Material is very easy to work with since it is easy applied over the surface of display as a thin film. ITO film, however, lacks flexibility which makes it unusable in flexible touchscreen applications. Demand for Iridium Tin Oxide has been enjoying sturdy rise through the last several years thanks to the popularity of touchscreen displays. Scientists warn that we might be running out of this chemical next decade. Researchers from the University of Exeter have come up with a competitive alternative to rare and expensive Iridium Tin Oxide.

Using graphene and ferric chloride they have developed the “most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity.” The reason why researchers for graphene gcience turned to graphene is because it is the thinnest flexible electro-conducting material available for the industry for these applications. The combination of all these qualities makes it a perfect candidate for flexible touchscreen application. Some electro-conductivity problems were solved by sandwiching ferric chloride layer between two layers of graphene; using this method did not affect its optical transparency. The resulting material, called Graph-exeter turned out to be the most light-weight, flexible, inexpensive, transparent and electro-conducting material ever produced. 

Obviously, new material is not limited to use in flexible touchscreen applications: it could be used in wearable electronics, touchscreen windows and mirrors, head-up displays, smart flexible touchscreen clothing and many other applications we can't even predict right now. Besides use in displays the material can be utilized in solar panels because of its transparency and ability to let through wide light spectrum. Graph-Exeter could cause a revolution in the digital display industry. It outperforms all other transparent conductors used today in electronics and could be utilized in a wide range of electronics. The University of Exeter team is now trying to develop a liquid spray-on version of the Graph-Exeter for use in such applications.

References: Advanced Materials.