A new material that is both highly transparent and electrically conductive could make large screen displays, smart windows and even touch screens and solar cells more affordable and efficient, according to materials scientists and engineers at Penn State who have discovered just such a material.
Primary Application Area: Materials, Chemical
Technology Development Status: Concept
FIGURES OF MERIT
Value Proposition: Indium tin oxide (ITO), the transparent conductor that is used for more than 90 percent of the display market, has been the dominant material for the past 60 years. In the last decade, the price of indium has increased dramatically. Displays and touchscreen modules have become a main cost driver in mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, making up close to 40 percent of the cost. While memory chips and processors get cheaper, following Moore’s Law, smartphone and tablet displays get more expensive from generation to generation. Manufacturers have searched for a possible ITO replacement, but until now, nothing has matched ITO’s combination of optical transparency, electrical conductivity and ease of fabrication. Currently indium (the 64th most common element in the earth’s crust) costs around $750 per kilogram, whereas strontium vanadate and calcium vanadate are made from elements with orders of magnitude higher abundance in the earth’s crust. Vanadium (22nd most common element) sells for around $25 a kilogram, less than 5% of the cost of indium, while strontium (17th most common element) is even cheaper than vanadium. This new transparent conductor material that has been shown capable of thin film deposition may become an economical alternative to ITO.
Organization Type: Academic/Gov Lab
GOVT/EXTERNAL FUNDING SOURCES
Vetted Programs/Awards: None. First public disclosure of this technology was in the December 2015 paper.