London: Graphene-treated nanowires could soon replace current touchscreen technology allowing for more affordable, flexible displays, scientists say.
The majority of today's touchscreen devices, such as tablets and smartphones are made using indium tin oxide (ITO) which is both expensive and inflexible.
Researchers from the University of Surrey and AMBER, the materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin, have now demonstrated that graphene-treated nanowires can be used to produce flexible touchscreens at a fraction of the current cost.
Using a simple, scalable and inexpensive method the researchers produced hybrid electrodes, the building blocks of touchscreen technology, from silver nanowires and graphene.
"The growing market in devices such as wearable technology and bendable smart displays poses a challenge to manufacturers," said Dr Alan Dalton from the University of Surrey.
"They want to offer consumers flexible, touchscreen technology but at an affordable and realistic price.
"At the moment, this market is severely limited in the materials to hand, which are both very expensive to make and designed for rigid, flat devices," Dalton said.
"Our work has cut the amount of expensive nanowires required to build such touchscreens by more than fifty times as well as simplifying the production process," said lead author, Dr Izabela Jurewicz, from the University of Surrey.
"We achieved this using graphene, a material that can conduct electricity and interpret touch commands whilst still being transparent," Jurewicz said.
"This is a real alternative to ITO displays and could replace existing touchscreen technologies in electronic devices. Even though this material is cheaper and easier to produce, it does not compromise on performance," said co-author, Professor Jonathan Coleman from AMBER.
The research was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.