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Purdue researchers develop less expensive, more sustainable method for producing transparent conductors

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 26th, 2023

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a less expensive, more sustainable method for producing transparent conductors.

Transparent conductors are critical components in touch screens, solar cells, LEDs, and other optoelectronic devices. The Purdue researchers are using patent-pending polymers to create transparent conductors, which are typically made from rare-earth minerals, namely indium tin oxide (ITO).

“Indium tin oxide films are mechanically fragile, which makes them undesirable in roll-to-roll manufacturing,” says Jianguo Mei, associate professor at Purdue and co-developer of the technology. “Also, indium is a rare-earth mineral with scarce reserves; the U.S. Geological Survey said the U.S. was 100% reliant on indium imports in 2021. Because demand for ITO films is increasing, the price of indium has soared. This has led to the search for alternatives, including metal mesh, graphene and earth-abundant metal oxides and organic conductors.”

Mei and his research team have developed a polymer from carbon-based materials that are easier and cheaper to manufacture into thin films than indium. According to Mei, the polymer also rivals indium in terms of performance.

“Our new transparent organic conductors exhibit low sheet resistance and high transmittance compared to any other solution processable transparent conductors,” Mei comments. “Also, it exhibits excellent durability under accelerated weathering tests.”

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization has filed for a patent application for the technology and is seeking potential industry partners to accelerate it to the marketplace.

Source: Purdue Research Foundation News

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