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Advancement in Highly Conductive, Transparent Thin Film

Thin, conductive films are useful in displays and solar cells. A new solution-based chemistry developed at Brown University for making indium tin oxide films could allow engineers to employ a much simpler and cheaper manufacturing process.

In a touch-screen display or a solar panel, any conductive overlay should be clear. Engineers currently employ transparent thin films of indium tin oxide (ITO) for the job. Now researchers from Brown University and ATMI Inc. report the best-ever transparency and conductivity performance for an ITO made using a chemical solution, which is potentially the easy, low-cost method manufacturers want.

“Our technology is already at the performance level for application in resistive touch screens,” said Jonghun Lee, a chemistry graduate student. Shouheng Sun, professor of chemistry, led the team.

The group made conductive ITO films 146 billionths of a meter thick that allowed 93 percent of light to pass through, a transparency comparable to the glass plates they were deposited on. The team also made their films on top of bendable polyimide, showing that it could potentially be useful for making flexible display technologies.

(Brown University)