NanoMaterial Brings Foldable Flatscreen TVs One Step Closer To Reality

Foldable flat screen televisions are getting closer to reality as University of Houston researchers have successfully developed a new state-of-the-art stretchable and see-through electric conductor. The technology presents the potential not only for the development of foldable flat screen TVs but also foldable cellular phones that you can easily fold like paper and carry under your arm like the daily evening news.

The principal researcher is Zhifeng Ren, a physicist from the University of Houston. He is also chief investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity. According to Ren, there were existing forays in the past that could help develop portable electronics that can be rolled up or otherwise so as they can be easily transported. However, finding a material that is resilient enough and has the needed properties of flexibility, conductivity and translucency has so far eluded their grasp. He says that some materials have at least two of the components needed but the Holy Grail is finding all three properties in one single material.

Ren and his research colleagues ChuanFei and Tianyi Sun from the University of Houston along with a couple more colleagues from Harvard University have developed what is called gold nanomesh electrodes that possess amazing electrical conductivity along with transparency and flexibility- the Holy Trinity of foldable electronics so to speak and have published their findings in a scientific paper in Nature Communications.

Aside from being used to create a new generation of high-end foldable gadgets, the material also has other important applications in the realm of biomedical devices according to Ren. The scientists reported that the nanomesh electrodes made of gold that were made by the novel grain boundary lithography heighten resistance ever so slightly, even at a strain of 160%, or at least after a thousand cycles using a strain level of 50%. The nanomesh basically is a network of completely interconnected nanowires made of gold that possess amazing electrical conductivity along with excellent transparency and is capable of achieving super high stretch ability, the paper announced.

The grain boundary lithography process uses a double-layer lift-off metallization technique that includes a mask layer comprising of indium oxide as well as a sacrificial layer made up of silicon oxide that provides good control on the proportions of the structure of the mesh.

Major electronics manufacturers like Samsung and LG have introduced bendable screens recently but neither of which is truly foldable or stretchable, what it does is it instead curves slightly to better fit against the face of the user. In order to achieve a truly foldable and stretchable device, and that is what the researchers are trying to achieve with their study. Ren announced that while the gold nanomesh material is superior in all respects compared to other materials tested, it still broke and electrical resistance increased when it was stretched. However, conductivity went back to normal when it was returned to its original shape.

Further developments in technologies such as this and Inair are shaping the ways in which we view and interact with our televisions. We just hope it’s for the better.

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