Coming soon: Low-cost touch screens made of renewable materials

January 28th, 2011 - 5:41 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 28 (ANI): Researchers at Fraunhofer are developing an alternative to expensive touchscreens - displays made of low-priced renewable raw materials that are available all over the world.

The basic element of a touch screen is indium-tin-oxide (ITO) because it is excellent at conducting slight currents and lets the colours of the display pass through unblocked.

However, ITO isn’t easily available. Enter carbon, an alternative. It is not only low-cost and available all over the world. It is also a renewable resource that you can get from organic matter such as wood.

The new material has carbon nanotubes and low-cost polymers. This new electrode foil is composed of two layers - one is the carrier, a thin foil made of inexpensive polyethylenterephthalate PET (used for making plastic bottles) and the other is a mixture of carbon-nanotubes and electrically conducting polymers is added that is applied to the PET as a solution and forms a thin film when it dries.

The carbon nanotubes harden on the PET to create a network where the electrically conducting polymers can be firmly held in place.

“The electrical resistance of our layer is somewhat greater than that of the ITO, but it’s easily enough for an application in electrical systems,” said Ivica Kolaric, project manager from Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA.

The new material can be used in a variety of ways.

“We could even make photovoltaic foils out of it to line corrugated roofs or other uneven structures,” said Kolaric.

The team has already set up pilot production where the foil can be enhanced for a wide range of applications.

The researchers are presenting touchscreens that contain carbon nanotubes at the nano tech 2011 fair in Tokyo (Hall 5, Stand E-18-11) from February 16-18. (ANI)

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