Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, head of consulting at market analyst IDTechEx, told attendees at yesterday’s webinar that there is currently no one-size-fits-all solution for transparent conductive films (TCFs), and new and expanding applications are opening up the market to include a range of materials.
One such driver is the demand for touchscreens, and although indium tin oxide (ITO) deposited on glass remains the dominant technology, it is being challenged on a number of fronts – for example, larger display sizes require films with lower sheet-resistance to manage current flow. Also, displays that are designed to bend or flex present another set of problems for touchscreen makers.
Ghaffarzadeh pointed out that switching from ITO-on-glass to ITO-on-film is one option, but for applications that require tight bending radii or for devices that are designed to flex many times, developers will have to consider alternative materials.
Here, graphene could be one to watch, especially given recent developments in roll-to-roll production (a topic covered on TMR+ last month). The material is flexible and robust, but these properties need to be matched by other parts of the device for the final package to be a success.
Interestingly, mechanical flexibility alone is unlikely to be enough to win market dominance, as most ITO-alternatives perform well in this area – for example, dispersions of carbon nanotubes and conducting polymers also score highly here.
Films based on silver nanowires are another option, especially where low sheet-resistance is desired. US firm Cambrios has already had some market success with this approach, with big-name electronics firms releasing products featuring its so-called ClearOhm technology.
In fact, Ghaffarzadeh puts silver nanowires as one of two ITO-alternatives that he believes are currently ahead. The other is metal mesh, which is another low sheet-resistance solution. Manufacturing options here include direct printing, embossing or etching, but like all of the technologies mentioned there are trade-offs to consider. In this case, feature-sizes, yield, and throughput, with each production approach having its own sweet spot in terms of applications.
Ghaffarzadeh’s take is that there will be room for many technologies, and before closing the webinar he mentioned a couple more contenders based on conductive nanoparticles: ClearJet, which uses inkjet technology to deposit the material, and CimaNanotech – a firm developing TCFs based on mesh-like 2D networks formed via wet-coating and self-assembly (see video).
— Nick Lagos (@GrapheneGuru) October 19, 2013
Webinar round-up: no one-size-fits-all for transparent conductive films. Check out the new blog post from TMR+ http://t.co/zYQP4UCRMI
— IOPmaterials (@IOPmaterials) October 18, 2013