Anyone with a smart phone or an iPad will tell you touch screens are the way of the future. But touch screens have some serious drawbacks, such as how expensive they are, not to mention easily breakable.

But a new type of touch screen could be less expensive and more durable. Researchers in South Korea and Japan write in the journal Nature that they can make large pieces of graphene films, up to 30 inches long, for touch screen phones and flat panel TVs.

Most touch screens in phones are now made with indium tin oxides (ITO). The ITO's greatest asset is that it's transparent, but it comes with a cost. ITO is exceedingly expensive, because it's made of rare materials.

Electronics companies have been looking for a replacement for the ITO. One option includes carbon nanotubes, which are now being used to develop lithium-ion batteries for portable electronics that should last ten times longer than current batteries. But carbon nanotubes don't work well because they tend to have small defects that create visible areas of “dead” pixels in displays.

Graphene screens are almost completely transparent (like the ITOs), and are highly conductive and very strong (not like the ITOs).

Graphene screens have been around since 2004, but this is the first time that researchers were able to successfully produce them in larger quantities in a roll-to-roll production. In their tests, researchers incorporated the graphene electrodes into a fully functional touch-screen panel, where they outperformed standard ITO electrodes.
As for when graphene screens will become mainstream, researchers won't say, so it's probably wise to invest in a protective case for your phone until then.

Photo: Nature Nanotechnology/Sukang Bae
Soure : news.discovery



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