Within every LCD, Plasma, and OLED display is a layer of indium tin oxide, ITO, and it is crucial to the displays' operation. The reason it is so important is that ITO is a transparent conductor, which is very uncommon and that lack of an alternative material makes it quite expensive. Numerous researchers are working on a replacement for ITO, including those at the Ames Laboratory who have discovered how to make such a replacement from a polymer.
The polymer known as PEDOT:PSS for short was first discovered about 15 years ago, but at the time it was not conductive enough to be useful. Now the researchers have discovered how to change that by using special treatments and a multi-layering technique. When tested the researchers found it is at least 44% more efficient than a comparable ITO-based device, which is the highest gain over such a device. According to computer models the reason for this gain has to do with the different optical properties of the PEDOT:PSS and ITO-based devices.
Making the polymer even more enticing as an ITO replacement is its flexibility. This is very important as OLED technology is naturally flexible but the rigidity of the necessary ITO electrode has impaired flexible OLED displays from being developed.