Researchers from Exeter University have successfully developed a graphene based replacement for ITO (indium tin oxide). According to published results this is the most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity.
Called GraphExeter, the material could be used in place of ITO and other carbon based transparent conductors in applications that required electrodes such as - touch screen, displays, and photovoltaics. The material is also transparent over a wide light spectrum, it holds to promise of enhancing the efficiency of solar panels by 30%.
Adapted from graphene, GraphExeter is much more flexible than indium tin oxide (ITO), the main conductive material currently used in electronics. ITO is becoming increasingly expensive and is a finite resource, expected to run out in 2017.
To create GraphExeter, the Exeter team sandwiched molecules of ferric chloride between two layers of graphene. Ferric chloride enhances the electrical conductivity of graphene, without affecting the material’s transparency.
The material was produced by a team from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Graphene Science. The research team is now developing a spray-on version of GraphExeter, which could be applied straight onto fabrics, mirrors and windows.
These research findings are published in Advanced Materials, a leading journal in materials science.
Khrapach, I., Withers, F., Bointon, T. H., Polyushkin, D. K., Barnes, W. L., Russo, S. and Craciun, M. F. (2012), Novel Highly Conductive and Transparent Graphene-Based Conductors. Adv. Mater.. doi: 10.1002/adma.201200489
Transparent conductors based on few-layer graphene (FLG) intercalated with ferric chloride (FeCl3) have an outstandingly low sheet resistance and high optical transparency. FeCl3-FLGs outperform the current limit of transparent conductors such as indium tin oxide, carbon-nanotube films, and doped graphene materials. This makes FeCl3-FLG materials the best transparent conductors for optoelectronic devices.
This research was funded by the EPSRC and Royal Society.
Dr Monica Craciun, lead researcher, University of Exeter, said “GraphExeter could revolutionise the electronics industry. It outperforms any other carbon-based transparent conductor used in electronics and could be used for a range of applications, from solar panels to ‘smart’ teeshirts. We are very excited about the potential of this material and look forward to seeing where it can take the electronics industry in the future.”