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Silver nanowire enables next-gen touchscreen products

Posted: 17 Apr 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Silver nanowire  touchscreen  wearable  flexible electronics 

Forthcoming generations of both smaller and larger touch interfaces need to be very responsive; also, the display needs to be bright and visible in all types of ambient lighting. This requires notably more highly conductive transparent conductors with high transmission ability. Silver nanowire delivers on all counts.

Transparent conductors may also be applied as electrodes for LCD, OLED, thin film photovoltaic cells, shutters for 3D TVs and applications that are yet to be imagined. In general, the requirements are the same. This means higher conductivity, better light transmission and no side effects like moiré or pattern visibility, along with the ability to support flexible touch screens. OEM systems companies naturally want all of these features at less cost than traditional technologies.

...and thinner!

Single-layer touch sensors are in demand for tablets, mobile phones, and—doubtless—whatever comes next. A single-layer approach offers notably lower cost because there are fewer layers of adhesives and conductors in the touchscreen stack. Newer products also have higher performance requirements to meet or exceed competitive offerings, making silver nanowires an ideal fit in the product development race.

Recently, a seven-inch, single-layer design using silver nanowires was demonstrated. It's twice the size of what's possible with ITO. The narrow line/space requirements rule out competing metal mesh technologies as well. This single-layer touch sensor offers multi-touch capability (we have 10 fingers), very high transmission (over 90 per cent) and is ideally suited for price-sensitive mobile consumer electronics products. Furthermore, it can be matched with either a glass or plastic cover lens offering OEMs notably increased product design freedom.

Less to make

There's more good news. Overall, silver nanowire-based touchscreens range from slightly less to significantly lower cost than equivalent ITO film-based solutions. The manufacturing process doesn't use chemicals and there are no waste disposal problems, so it's a greener way of making new touchscreens.

The bottom line is that specifying silver nanowire-based touch technology doesn't have a downside. Overall, its costs range from slightly less to significantly less than the cost of equivalent ITO, film-based solutions. Its advantages are numerous. The material is cost-effectively accelerating the transition to next-generation flexible and wearable devices and—beyond that—to products we can only imagine.

- Sri Peruvumba
  EE Times/Vice President
  Cambrios Technologies Corporation

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