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New Transparent Electrode Developed Using Silver Nanowires

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:31AM

For a great many technologies, transparent electrodes are necessary, but few actually exist. The most commonly used example is indium tin oxide (ITO) and is actually quite expensive because of how rare indium is. Some alternatives involve networks of silver, which is also a rare metal, but researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie have created a new conductor that uses so little silver, that the result is cost effective.

A common design for silver transparent conductors arranges strips of the metal into grids, but this new solution instead uses nanowires in a loose mesh. First the silver nanowires are in a suspension with ethanol and then deposited onto a substrate. As the ethanol dries the nanowires organize themselves into that mesh, maintaining transparency and conductivity. Next the researchers deposit a layer of AZO, a wide bandgap semiconductor made of zinc oxide with a heavy dose of aluminum. This composite has proven to be as conductive as the silver grids, though the conductivity can be manipulated by altering the length and concentration of the nanowires.

In the end the new electrode uses just 0.3 grams of silver per square meter, compared to the 15-20 grams per square meter for the silver-grid solutions. Currently the researchers are working to optimize the software used to determine the optimal properties of the nanowires and see the new transparent conductor being used in solar cells.

Source: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

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