Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Dream screens from graphene: Rice University develops indium-free transparent, flexible electrodes

A hybrid material that combines a fine aluminum mesh with a single-atom-thick layer of graphene outperforms materials common to current touch screens and solar cells. The transparent, flexible electrodes were developed in the lab of Rice University chemist James Tour. (Credit: Yu Zhu/Rice University)
A hybrid material that combines a fine aluminum mesh with a single-atom-thick layer of graphene outperforms materials common to current touch screens and solar cells. The transparent, flexible electrodes were developed in the lab of Rice University chemist James Tour. (Credit: Yu Zhu/Rice University)

Abstract:
Flexible, transparent electronics are closer to reality with the creation of graphene-based electrodes at Rice University.

Dream screens from graphene: Rice University develops indium-free transparent, flexible electrodes

Houston, TX | Posted on August 1st, 2011

The lab of Rice chemist James Tour lab has created thin films that could revolutionize touch-screen displays, solar panels and LED lighting. The research was reported in the online edition of ACS Nano.

Flexible, see-through video screens may be the "killer app" that finally puts graphene -- the highly touted single-atom-thick form of carbon -- into the commercial spotlight once and for all, Tour said. Combined with other flexible, transparent electronic components being developed at Rice and elsewhere, the breakthrough could lead to computers that wrap around the wrist and solar cells that wrap around just about anything.

The lab's hybrid graphene film is a strong candidate to replace indium tin oxide (ITO), a commercial product widely used as a transparent, conductive coating. It's the essential element in virtually all flat-panel displays, including touch screens on smart phones and iPads, and is part of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and solar cells.

ITO works well in all of these applications, but has several disadvantages. The element indium is increasingly rare and expensive. It's also brittle, which heightens the risk of a screen cracking when a smart phone is dropped and further rules ITO out as the basis for flexible displays.

The Tour Lab's thin film combines a single-layer sheet of highly conductive graphene with a fine grid of metal nanowire. The researchers claim the material easily outperforms ITO and other competing materials, with better transparency and lower resistance to electric current.

"Many people are working on ITO replacements, especially as it relates to flexible substrates," said Tour, Rice's T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science. "Other labs have looked at using pure graphene. It might work theoretically, but when you put it on a substrate, it doesn't have high enough conductivity at a high enough transparency. It has to be assisted in some way."

Conversely, said postdoctoral researcher Yu Zhu, lead author of the new paper, fine metal meshes show good conductivity, but gaps in the nanowires to keep them transparent make them unsuitable as stand-alone components in conductive electrodes.

But combining the materials works superbly, Zhu said. The metal grid strengthens the graphene, and the graphene fills all the empty spaces between the grid. The researchers found a grid of five-micron nanowires made of inexpensive, lightweight aluminum did not detract from the material's transparency.

"Five-micron grid lines are about a 10th the size of a human hair, and a human hair is hard to see," Tour said.

Tour said metal grids could be easily produced on a flexible substrate via standard techniques, including roll-to-roll and ink-jet printing. Techniques for making large sheets of graphene are also improving rapidly, he said; commercial labs have already developed a roll-to-roll graphene production technique.

"This material is ready to scale right now," he said.

The flexibility is almost a bonus, Zhu said, due to the potential savings of using carbon and aluminum instead of expensive ITO. "Right now, ITO is the only commercial electrode we have, but it's brittle," he said. "Our transparent electrode has better conductivity than ITO and it's flexible. I think flexible electronics will benefit a lot."

In tests, he found the hybrid film's conductivity decreases by 20 to 30 percent with the initial 50 bends, but after that, the material stabilizes. "There were no significant variations up to 500 bending cycles," Zhu said. More rigorous bending test will be left to commercial users, he said.

"I don't know how many times a person would roll up a computer," Tour added. "Maybe 1,000 times? Ten thousand times? It's hard to see how it would wear out in the lifetime you would normally keep a device."

The film also proved environmentally stable. When the research paper was submitted in late 2010, test films had been exposed to the environment in the lab for six months without deterioration. After a year, they remain so.

"Now that we know it works fine on flexible substrates, this brings the efficacy of graphene a step up to its potential utility," Tour said.

Rice graduate students Zhengzong Sun and Zheng Yan and former postdoctoral researcher Zhong Jin are co-authors of the paper.

The Office of Naval Research Graphene MURI program, the Air Force Research Laboratory through the University Technology Corporation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Lockheed Martin Corp./LANCER IV program supported the research.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 285-acre forested campus in Houston, Texas, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom." With 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to futureowls.rice.edu/images/futureowls/Rice_Brag_Sheet.pdf.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Mike Williams
713-348-6728

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Read the abstract at:

Related News Press

News and information

Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information: Scientists use electron pulses to create and manipulate nanoscale magnetic excitations that can store data July 21st, 2017

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Harnessing light to drive chemical reactions July 19th, 2017

Videos/Movies

Nanotech Advances Future Mobile Devices and Wearable Technology July 5th, 2017

ANU invention may help to protect astronauts from radiation in space July 3rd, 2017

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Graphene/ Graphite

Scientists produce dialysis membrane made from graphene: Material can filter nanometer-sized molecules at 10 to 100 times the rate of commercial membranes June 29th, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Thought Leaders and Experts Join National Graphene Association Advisory Board June 16th, 2017

Flexible Electronics

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Here's a tip: Indented cement shows unique properties: Rice University models reveal nanoindentation can benefit crystals in concrete July 20th, 2017

Harnessing light to drive chemical reactions July 19th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: Antiaromatic molecule displays record electrical conductance July 19th, 2017

A firefly's flash inspires new nanolaser light July 18th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and VeriSilicon To Enable Single-Chip Solution for Next-Gen IoT Networks: Integrated solution leverages GF’s 22FDX® technology to decrease power, area, and cost for NB-IoT and LTE-M applications July 14th, 2017

Thinking thin brings new layering and thermal abilities to the semiconductor industry: In a breakthrough for the semiconductor industry, researchers demonstrate a new layer transfer technique called "controlled spalling" that creates many thin layers from a single gallium nitride July 11th, 2017

Discoveries

Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information: Scientists use electron pulses to create and manipulate nanoscale magnetic excitations that can store data July 21st, 2017

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Here's a tip: Indented cement shows unique properties: Rice University models reveal nanoindentation can benefit crystals in concrete July 20th, 2017

Announcements

Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information: Scientists use electron pulses to create and manipulate nanoscale magnetic excitations that can store data July 21st, 2017

Probiotics: Novel biosynthetic tool to develop metallic nanoparticles: This research article by Dr. Nida Akhtar et al has been published in Recent Patents on Drug Delivery & Formulation, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2017 July 20th, 2017

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Military

Nanoparticles could spur better LEDs, invisibility cloaks July 19th, 2017

'Upconverted' light has a bright future: Rice University professor developing plasmon-powered devices for medicine, security, solar cells July 17th, 2017

Nature-inspired material uses liquid reinforcement: Rice U. nanoengineers create liquid-solid composites using clues from nature July 11th, 2017

Meniscus-assisted technique produces high efficiency perovskite PV films July 7th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project