Touchscreens made of carbon

Carbon touchscreens developed

Low-priced renewable touchscreens will be presented at the nano tech fair in Tokyo in February.

Researchers at Europe’s largest application-orientated research organisation, Fraunhofer, have developed an alternative display made of low-priced renewable raw materials. 

Touchscreen technology used rare and expensive elements, which was the reason why the researchers had come up with an alternative, Fraunhofer said. 

Current technology involved a wafer-thin electrode under the glass surface of the display made of indium-tin-oxide, ITO. There were very few deposits of indium anywhere in the world, and in the long term, manufacturers of electronic gadgets were afraid they would be dependent upon the prices set by suppliers, the researchers said. 

The researchers had now succeeded in coming up with a new material for electrodes which was on the same level as ITO, but cheaper. Its main components were carbon nanotubes and low-cost polymers.

“This new electrode foil is composed of two layers. One is the carrier, a thin foil made of inexpensive polyethylenterephthalate PET used for making plastic bottles. Then a mixture of carbon-nanotubes and electrically conducting polymers is added that is applied to the PET as a solution and forms a thin film when it dries,” the Fraunhofer team said.

The carbon nanotubes hardened on the PET to create a network where the electrically conducting polymers could be firmly anchored.

Ivica Kolaric, project manager from Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, said "the electrical resistance of our layer is somewhat greater than that of the ITO, but it’s easily enough for an application in electrical systems". 

The researchers would present their carbon touchdisplay at the 2011 nano tech fair in Tokyo from February 16 to 18 this year.

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