Nanowire Electronics Transparent And Flexible

Transparent transistors and circuits have been successfully fabricated using nanowires of indium oxide or zinc oxide.


(Transparent indium-oxide nanowire transistors shown (invisibly!) in red line zones)

"The nanowires themselves are transparent, the contacts we put on them are transparent and the glass or plastic substrate is transparent," said David Janes, a researcher at Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center and a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

"Our study demonstrates that nanowire electronics can be fully transparent, as well as flexible, while maintaining high performance levels," said Tobin J. Marks, the Vladimir N. Ipatieff Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern. "This opens the door to entirely new technologies for high-performance transparent flexible displays."

This technological leap offers great hope to science fiction fans looking for futuristic devices from their favorite stories:

  • Large-scale transparent displays on curved surfaces.
    This would include windshield-mounted displays as well as heads-up displays for pilots. Consider the vision of the future presented by E.C. Tubb in his 1958 novel The Mechanical Monarch:
    Against one wall a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour. It steadied and a woman stared from the screen. A woman with long dark hair and eyes that were like twin pools of midnight beneath her heavy brows...
    (Read more about flexible wall sheet display)
  • Flexible, clear e-paper displays Consider the poster TV from Larry Niven's A World Out of Time:
    She set up a screen: a television that unrolled like a poster.
    (Read more about Niven's poster TV
  • Flexible electronics for RFID tags, contactless credit cards and other electronics applications embedded on flexible surfaces.
    How else am I going to get a sleeve watch, not to mention readout skin?
    I'm the only report I know who still uses his handwriter except to take notes…I snapped the fingers of my left hand…Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand. By pressing the dots in different combinations with my fingertips I was able to write the story in shorthand, and watch the loops and lines scrawl themselves on a strip of readout skin on my wrist...
    (Read more about readout skin)
The nanowires are transparent because they are made of materials that do not absorb light in the visible range of the spectrum. In conventional electronics, transistors are connected to the rest of the circuitry by tiny lines of metal that act as wires. But in the new approach, the nanowires are the transistors.

"This is a different kind of wire," Janes said. "It is basically taking the place of the silicon in silicon electronics... Ideally, we want to have circuitry where each pixel [in a display] has a drive transistor and then some control transistors with it so that you can turn your pixels on and off," Janes said.

Via Eurekalert.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/27/2007)

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