Indium is one of the rarest metals on earth, but it is an important component of ubiquitous electronic devices. Engineers have now proven a way to swap indium for graphene to make devices with the same electronic properties. Indium tin oxide (ITO) films are highly conductive and light transmissive, adapting to a variety of display technologies, including LCD, OLED, e-ink, touchscreen, LED lighting, glass coatings and solar cells.
The thing is that India is not very ordinary. Although technically more abundant than materials such as gold and silver, indium as an element is rarely found in the earth’s crust, so it should be extracted from other metals, usually as a by-product of zinc mining. To that end, it appears in the list of major raw materials in Europe, the US, Australia and Japan.
It is not surprising to see scientists actively searching for more common alternatives. Previous works have found promising candidates in carbon nanotubes, copper nanowires or new glassy polymers. Now, in a new study, researchers at Paragraph in London and Queen Mary University may have discovered one in the form of graphene, everyone’s favorite wonder material.
Graphene is composed of atomically thick carbon sheets, and exhibits useful electronic and optical properties, which is certainly important because carbon is one of the most abundant elements on Earth.
The researchers first used a technique called metallic organic chemical vapor deposition, in which a layer of graphene is deposited on a transparent substrate. Graphene is doped with nitric acid to increase its conductivity and then laser-etched into a specific pattern and converted to anode. The resulting graphene basedYou areThe device and the old ITO device worked.
Although other studies have shown how graphene can be used as a substitute for indium, none of the devices they make are as efficient and efficient as the original. The main problem pointed out by the research team is that graphene is usually placed in a metal catalyst using another investment method and then transferred to a transparent substrate, this additional stage introducing impurities that affect performance.
“There have been many attempts due to the importance and scarcity of ITO, but no material with comparable performance has yet been found in electronic or optical devices,” said Professor Colin Humphries, co-author of the study. “Our paper is the first in the world to demonstrate that graphene can replace ITO in electronic / optical equipment. We have proven that graphene-OLEDs have the same performance as ITO-OLEDs.”
But some so-called miracles need to be solved before they become the silver bullet that scientists expect. Despite the scarcity, indium is still relatively inexpensive, yet graphene is currently expensive to mass-produce. But this economic landscape is changing and companies like Paragraph are developing production methods to produce graphene at lower cost.
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