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Copper-Nickel nanowires ideal for printable electronics

Posted: 04 Jun 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:printed electronics  copper  nickel  nanowires  indium tin oxide 

Researchers at Duke University have created a new set of flexible, electrically conductive nanowires by combining copper and nickel.

The copper-nickel nanowires, in the form of a film, conduct electricity even under conditions that break down the transfer of electrons in plain silver and copper nanowire, claim researchers.

Benjamin Wiley, assistant professor of chemistry at Duke said since films made with copper-nickel nanowires are stable and are relatively inexpensive to create, they hold potential in printed electronics applications and products like electronic paper, smart packaging and interactive clothing.

The new copper-nickel nanowires are the latest nanomaterial Wiley's lab has developed as a possible low-cost alternative to indium tin oxide, or ITO. This material is coated on glass to form the transparent conductive layer in the display screens of cell phones, e-readers and iPads.

To test how long they conducted electricity and resisted oxidation, the researchers baked the new nanowires at various temperatures. The tests show that the copper-nickel nanowire films would have to sit in air at room temperature for 400 years before losing 50 per cent of their electrical conductivity.

"While the copper-nickel nanowires stack up against silver and copper alone, they aren't going to replace indium-tin-oxide in flat-panel displays any time soon," Wiley said, explaining that, for films with similar transparency, copper-nickel nanowire films cannot yet conduct the same amount of electricity as ITO. "Instead, we're currently focusing on applications where ITO can't go, like printed electronics," he said.

He explained that printed electronics combine conductive or electronically active inks with the printing processes that make magazines, consumer packaging and clothing designs. The low cost and high speed of these printing processes make them attractive for the production of solar cells, LEDs, plastic packaging and clothing.

A Durham, NC start-up company, NanoForge Corp., which Wiley co-founded has begun manufacturing copper-nickel nanowires to test in these and other potential applications.

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