Now looking for:
Next-level funding to reach TRL6
Transparent conductors (TCs) are materials characterized by the high transmission of light and very high electrical DC conductivity. TALNET aims explores the feasibility of using electrospun polymer templates to produce flexible transparent conductors that will be resistant to corrosion. The conductors will allow for display, lighting, solar cells and other applications where light transmission is critical to device operation. The innovation aims to surpass the industry standard of indium tin oxide (ITO). To that end, the project will mainly make use of inexpensive aluminium networks. The new standard will help meet growing demands for lightweight, mechanically robust and flexible form factors.
Problem worth solving
TCs play a crucial role towards several important applications, such as use in touchscreens, electronic displays and photovoltaics. Traditionally, TCs have been based on ITO. However, the scarcity of indium and the brittleness of ITO render this unsuited for use in demanding next-generation applications such as flexible displays and photovoltaics. A number of materials with superior performance on these parameters have been proposed as replacement for ITO. However, these suffer from a number of important limitations which restrict their usefulness.
TALNET proposes a new TC based on inexpensive aluminium metal networks with seamless low resistance junctions fabricated by polymer electrospinning. With TALNET, it is possible to map the entire transmission-conductivity range to meet the TC requirements of different technologies. TALNET promises to deliver important advantages over approaches based on deposited films or nanowires. In particular, TALNET allows for high flexibility, low roughness, excellent adhesion, corrosion-resistance and independent control of transmission and conductivity. In addition, the wire profile can be tapered to optimise transmission and minimise haze.
The global transparent conductive films market is expected to reach a market size of US $8.46 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4% from 2016 to 2026, as demand rises for a number of lucrative and high-growing applications. In the medium to long term, market will be driven by the emergence of new applications and continued innovation. Industry growth is widened by technological advancements and the increasing adoption of handheld consumer electronics for personal and commercial use, as well as growth in the photovoltaics industry.
Route to Market
To ensure maximum impact of the technology, it is assumed that the ideal strategy to go to market is to build a strong patent portfolio and license the technology non-exclusively to companies that already manufacture the end product(s), with established distribution and sales channels and access to customers. However, before suitable licensees can be engaged, further technology development work is to be done to demonstrate performance on in-demand technical specifications, scalability and cost effectiveness in a real industrial-product environment through (a) pilot project(s) with one (or more) industry players.
The largest competitor to TALNET is ITO, the status quo in the TC market. A number of materials have been investigated and proposed as replacement for ITO and have attracted much attention over the last two decades:
1) less indium or indium-free doped oxide films, such as FTO, doped ZnO or TiO2, and some multi-layer combinations of different oxide films;
2) ultrathin metal films, such as Cu or Ag films;
3) 1-dimensional nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes, metal mesh, and metal nanowire networks.
Graphene film may also have potential to replace ITO if the grain-boundary scattering and doping issues are thoroughly addressed. Of these, networks composed of metallic silver and copper have shown the highest figure-of-merit performance, but are restricted by corrosion under ambient conditions.
TALNET is developed by a team of distinguished academics in the fields of Chemistry and Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices at Trinity College, Dublin.