Transparent conductors, thin conductive films coated on transparent substrates, are a crucial component of many electronic devices. They need to be electrically conductive, and at the same time, optically transparent to light. Such thin films are widely used in today’s electronics as transparent electrodes in touch panels, flat displays, thin film photovoltaics and smart windows.
Up until now, metal oxides, such as Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), are the most commonly used transparent electrodes because of their low electrical resistance and high optical transparency. However, low abundance of indium and rigidity of ITO film has limited its suitability for certain applications such as flexible electronics. The ITO films are prone to damage during bending therefore their use in flexible devices is strictly limited.
In recent years, many efforts have been directed in the transparent electrodes industry to replace ITO by non-ITO materials such as silver nanowire, carbon nanotubes, graphene, metal mesh and conductive polymers. The transparent conductive films from these materials have been fabricated and tested for printed and flexible electronics.
Silver-based nanomaterials are one of the most widely used non-ITO materials for producing transparent electrodes due to their high electrical conductivity, transparency and mechanical flexibility.