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Researchers find replacement for indium in electrodes

Posted: 01 Jul 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:indium? silver? titanium dioxide? electrode? LED?

Although indium tin oxide (ITO) has become a standard material in LED, flat panel plasma displays, electronic ink and other applications due to its high performance, moisture resistance and capacity for being finely etched, it is also rare and expensive. In addition, it requires a costly deposition process to make opto-electronic devices and makes for a brittle electrode. With this in mind, a team of researchers has developed a sturdy, transparent and indium-free electrode from silver (Ag) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) that could replace indium-based electrodes in some applications.

"Silver and titanium are much more abundant than indium in the earth's crust, and so we anticipate that electronic devices based on silver and titanium dioxide would be a more sustainable materials system and be manufactured at a low cost," said T.L. Alford, a professor of materials science and engineering at Arizona State University who led the research.

The TiO2/Ag/TiO2 composite electrode multi-layer film the researchers studied has been well characterized in the literature, but the team optimised both the thickness of the silver layer and the manufacturing process so that the multi-layer film has a low sheet resistance and high optical transmittance, both properties necessary for high-performance.

The researchers created films with a sheet resistance as low as one sixth of that achieved by previous studies, while maintaining about 90 per cent optical transmittance. With the choice of an underlying substrate made of polyethylene napthalate (PEN)a sturdy polymer used in a variety of applications from bottling carbonated beverages to manufacturing flexible electronicsthe researchers added additional durability.

Because of a less expensive manufacturing process and the wide availability of titanium dioxide, silver and PEN, the new TiO2/Ag/TiO2 thin film could one day help make devices such as electronic displays and solar cells more affordable by replacing more expensive indium-based electrodes.

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