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Researchers at CRANN, the Science Foundation Ireland funded nanoscience institute based in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), have discovered a new material that could transform the quality, lifespan and efficiency of flat screen computers, televisions and other devices. The research team was led by Prof Igor Shvets, a CRANN Principal Investigator who has successfully launched and sold two spin out companies from TCD and who is involved in the Spirit of Ireland energy project. A patent application protecting the new material was filed by TCD.
Commenting on the research, Prof Igor Shvets said, "This is an exciting development with a range of applications and we are hopeful this initial research will attract commercial interest in order to explore its industrial use. The new material could lead to innovations such as window-integrated flat screens and to increase the efficiency of certain solar cells, thus significantly impacting on the take-up of solar cells, which can help us to reduce carbon emissions."
Commenting on the research, Dr. Diarmuid O'Brien, Executive Director of CRANN said, "Ireland is one of the leading countries in the world for nanoscience research, a discipline which is closely linked with technology improvements. We are working with leading companies such as Intel and HP in this sphere and helping them to improve their products using our innovative research methods. This new material could be of real significance to our industry partners. I look forward to seeing Professor Shvets and his team develop this research further and realising its commercial potential."
Devices that the new material could be used with such as solar cells, flat screen TVs, computer monitors, LEDs all utilise materials that can conduct electricity and at the same time are see-through. These devices currently use transparent conducting oxides, which are a good compromise between electrical conductivity and optical transparency. They all have one fundamental limitation: they all conduct electricity through the movement of electrons. Such materials are referred to as n-type transparent conducting oxides. Electricity can also be conducted through as p-type materials. Modern day electronics make use of n-type and p-type materials. The lack of good quality p-type transparent conducting oxides, however, led the research team to develop a new material - a p-type transparent conducting oxide.
Professor Shvets' research was recently published in the international science publication, Applied Physics Letters.
*"Magnesium, nitrogen codoped Cr2O3: A p-type transparent conducting oxide", E. Arca, K. Fleischer, I. V. Shvets, Applied Physics Letters 99, 111910 (2011).
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