The development of future flexible and transparent electronics relies on novel materials, which are mechanically flexible, lightweight and low-cost, in addition to being electrically conductive and optically transparent. The demand for transparent conductors is expectedt to grow rapidly as electronic devices, such as touch screens, displays, solid state lighting and photovoltaics become ubiquitous.
ITO replacement is a key theme among product development. Silver nanowires, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene may allow for the replacement of ITO, which is in short supply, expensive and limited in its use with flexible substrates. CNTs, nanowires and graphene are deposited in thin films, leading to a conducting layer which can also be transparent. In relation to ITO they are more cost effective, have higher resistivity and greater flexibility The addressable ITO replacement market has been estimated to be worth $1.5-$2 billion annually. CNTs have been developed by a number of companies for TC in this market, without a huge market impact thus far. Companies are mainly targetting the small/medium size flat panel display market. This is estimated to be worth $130 billion per annum and will reach $150 billion per annum in the next few years, driven by the increasing consumer demand for portable display-based electronics such as smartphones, cameras, iPads, netbooks, and similar devices. For such applications, low-cost, high image quality, low-power consumption display screens are in high demand. CNTouch began supplying CNT films for touchscreen sensors to a Chinese smartphone OEM in 2013.
Cambrios Technologies Corporation
Cambrios Technologies Corporation is a silver nanowire-based solutions provider for the transparent conductor markets. The com- pany’s first product is ClearOhmTM coating material that produces a transparent, conductive film by wet processing.
The company has expanded its manufacturing capacity to enable its customers to achieve up to 15 million m2/year of ClearOhm® material coated film. During the past 12 months, Cambrios has received significant market traction for ClearOhm material, shipping products into applications including mobile phones, tablets, monitors, All-In-One (AIO) computers and more.
The company is commercializing a conductive plastic film with superior performance, cost, and durability for application in touch sensors.
The approach is to produce smooth films composed of sparse meshes of silver nanowires, which are highly conductive and flexible, yet transmit light with high efficiency. ITO is a brittle material and cannot be used in flexible devices. Silver nanowire films do not suffer from these limitations, and thus are expected to be a low-cost alternative to ITO and an enabling technology that allows the flexible electronics market to emerge.
The company produces nano Silver based flexible trans- parent and conductive thin films.
In 2014, Cima NanoTech produced the industry’s first ultra responsive, non-ITO film-based, 42-inch projected capacitive multi-touch module for large format touch applications. The module was built by Amdolla Group, a leader in advanced touch module manufacturing, using Cima NanoTech’s highly conductive, silver nanoparticle-based, SANTE® FS200 touch films. This product is targeted
at applications including self-service kiosks, interactive tabletops, widescreen interactive digital signage, interactive flat panel displays, and other applications that require fast response, large size touch screens.
Zikon is developing low-cost, flexible electronic paper solutions, with high contrast, fast response, and low power consumption.
Zikon’s electric ink technology uses nano-droplets of coloured ink to create images on paperlike substrates. They are targetting high-performance, low cost, energy efficient display solution within the rapidly growing global display market, which is currently valued in excess of $150B.
QD Vision is focused on QDs for lighting and displays.
In 2014, QD Vision announced the commercial availability of what it says is the industry’s first green quantum dots (QD) at 30 nm Full-Width Half-Maximum (FWHM). QD Vision claims its new 30 nm green QDs and enable display manufacturers to benefit from increased performance when developing high-brightness, full-gamut colour displays. The firm’s LCD products, where blue LED’s are used together with red and green QDs emit spectrally narrow red, green and blue colours to obtain full-gamut colour at a good efficiency.
Founded in 2010, as a spin out from Professor Zhenan Bao’s chemical engineering laboratory at Stanford University.
The company develops hybrid carbon nanotube based transparent electrode inks and films for display devices. Its products are used in touch screens, OLED devices, photovoltaic solar panels, smart windows, and flexible displays. The company has raised over $10 million in investment to date.