For the first time, transparent conductive circuits made of silver nanowires used to make rigid and flexible transparent displays.
Connecting LEDs with transparent conductive circuits has made it possible to turn glass windows, walls and building exteriors into see-through displays that inform or entertain viewers with videos and images. A new approach to making these circuits could help lower the costs of transparent LED screens and allow the technology to be used on substrates that are flexible or curved.
“Transparent LED screens act much like traditional LCDs or LED televisions but the fact that they don’t block light enables creative applications not possible with conventional display technology,” said Liu Yang, who led the Zhejiang University research team. “The circuits we fabricated are highly transparent, conductive and flexible, and thus are very promising as a replacement for transparent circuits used today.”
In the new work, the researchers developed a straightforward fabrication process for using silver nanowires to make the ultralong transparent circuits necessary for meter-scale transparent LED screens. Using a spray coating method and sacrificial masks, they created a 1.2-meter silver nanowire transparent conductive circuit.
The new transparent conductive circuits consist of randomly distributed silver nanowires that are applied in a pattern to a substrate such as plastic or glass. The nanowire network must be dense enough for the electrical current to travel well but not so dense as to compromise transparency.
“Because of our very simple and low-cost fabrication method and the inherent flexibility of silver nanowires, these new transparent conductive circuits could lower the cost and expand the applications of the transparent LED screens to flexible and large-angle curved areas,” said Yang.