Most electronics have one thing in common – display. The displays are majorly constructed from a material known as Indium tin oxide (ITO). Now, a new material has been discovered which will make things cheaper. The material is transparent and conductive. Manufacturers believe that this material will reduce the cost of smartphones.
The ITO is quit important and the market value increased since many people are buying gadgets and other appliances. Many companies depend on it because it’s easy to make, easy to shape, conducts electricity very efficiently, and has excellent optical properties. However, the price is too high hence making it hard for companies to fully depend on it.
A team of researchers have decided to cut off the monopolized market. Roman Engel-Herbert, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Pennsylvania State University, is the guy behind the new invention. The professor and his team hoped to create a new material that provided the same properties as ITO, but using more readily accessible materials in order to make a cheaper variant.
The team came up with thin materials approximately 10 nanometer made from unusual metal compounds – strontium vanadate and calcium vanadate. Most metals, such as gold or silver, conduct electricity by passing charge along using the outer electrons of its metal atoms; these are able to move freely through the structure of the material, according to iflScience.
Explained by iflScience, the two metals conduct electricity by taking advantage of a hole within the structure. This hole is a zone of positive charge, not a physical hole; this encourages the electrons to hop through, allowing for the conduction of electricity, somewhat flowing like a liquid. This efficient electrical conduction is a necessary requirement of all contemporary digital displays.
Afterwards, when combined with oxygen, the metals also come up with amazing optical properties that allows a wide range of wavelengths of light to penetrate them, from the low-energy infrared to the high-energy ultraviolet. Technically, it is transparent to a wide variety of colors of light, making it ideal for use in smartphone displays.
The metals are cheaper than the ones being used by manufacturers. For example, Vanadium costs $25 and strontium is even cheaper. On the other hand, indium costs £500 ($750) per kilogram and researchers are worried that they are now placed under rare elements.
“Our correlated metals work really well compared to ITO,” said Engel-Herbert. “Now, the question is how to implement these new materials into a large-scale manufacturing process. From what we understand right now, there is no reason that could not replace ITO in the same equipment currently used in industry.”