New research shows how silver could be the key to gold-standard flexible gadgets
Research published in the journals Materials Today Communications and Scientific Reports has described how silver nanowires are proving to be the ideal material for flexible, touch-screen technologies while also exploring how the material can be manipulated to tune its performance for other applications. Currently, touch screen devices mainly rely on electrodes made from indium tin oxide (ITO), a material that is expensive to source, expensive to process and very brittle.
A team from the University of Surrey, led by Professor Alan Dalton and in collaboration with M-SOLV Ltd, a touch-sensor manufacturer based in Oxford, looked to alternative materials to overcome the challenges of ITO, which is suffering from supply uncertainty. Alternative materials investigated as ITO replacements have included graphene, carbon nanotubes and random metal nanowire films. This study showed how silver nanowire films have emerged as the strongest competitor, due to transmittances and conductivities which can match and readily exceed those of ITO. This is a material that consists of wires which are over a thousand times thinner than a human hair, that form an interconnected conductive network.