See-Through Circuitry Leads To Low-cost And High-Performance Transparent Electronics

Posted: Aug 16 2016, 3:34am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
See-Through Circuitry Leads to Low-cost and High-Performance Transparent Electronics
KAUST researchers formed transparent electronic circuits on flexible plastic surfaces. Credit: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  • Transparent Electronic Circuitry is the New “In” Thing

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Apparently, transparent electronic circuitry is the new “in” thing. It is made by atom-to-atom deposition.

Via depositing atom after atom, economical, efficient, transparent electronic circuitry is a possibility. The horizon for this novel form of technology has just dawned.

These circuits made from transparent materials have a large number of roles to play in everyday appliances. These range from displays in vehicular windscreens to television sets and windows in residential areas and offices which show built-in artificial intelligence.

Scientists at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have even made see-through transistors and other odds and ends of electronic circuitry.

The usual means of making this see-through circuitry is very cheap materials which can be easily accessed. As for the fabrication method employed in the creation of see-through circuitry, it is extremely simple and straightforward.

Currently, indium tin oxide (ITO) is the preferred option for making the warp and woof of electronic items. The good thing about ITO is that it is a strange amalgam of crystal clear optics and electrical conductance.

Among the various uses of this may be included touch sensitive smartphone screens and light-gathering solar panels. The only problem is that indium is a rare metal. As the demand for electronic products made of indium increases so does the price of this precious metal.

One of the alternative metals to ITO is aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO). This is more readily found by mining methods. It is not as rare as ITO. Thus AZO is a sane choice for this purpose. However, there is a catch.

Electronic items made from AZO are much less efficient as regards their performance than those made from ITO. In order to break through this barrier, the experts at KAUST employed atomic layer deposition. This is a very precise technology. The circuitry is composed of single layers of atoms in this scheme.

Vapors of aluminum and zinc were sandwiched into a transparent substrate. There they stuck to the surface. This methodology simplifies matters even further. Many electronic devices use something called a thin film transistor.

When these components are combined in great numbers they work wonders. They allow computers to do calculations and drive displays not to mention behave as active sensors.

Hafnium oxide was used by the experts at KAUST. It is a transparent material. Furthermore, the biggest advantage of this method is that it requires a temperature of 160 degrees Celsius. This is not much when seen from a metallurgical viewpoint.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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