Friday, January 23, 2009

Clear carbon-nanotube films

Special sheets for bendable displays will soon hit the market.

By Prachi Patel-Predd

Nanotube shrink-wrap: A small sample of the carbon-nanotube-coated plastic film that could be used as the see-through electrodes in touch screens, roll-up displays, and thin-film solar cells. Credit: Unidym

The first electronic product using carbon nanotubes is slated to hit the market this year. Unidym, a startup based in Menlo Park, CA, plans to start selling rolls of its carbon-nanotube-coated plastic films in the second half of 2009.

The transparent, conductive films could make manufacturing LCD screens faster and cheaper. They could enhance the life of touch panels used in ATM screens and supermarket kiosks. They might also pave the way for flexible thin-film solar cells and bright, roll-up color displays. The displays could be used in cell phones, billboards, and electronic books and magazines.

In all of these applications, the nanotube sheets would replace the indium tin oxide (ITO) coatings that are currently used as transparent electrodes. ITO cracks easily and is a more expensive material. "The cost of indium has gone up by 100 times in the last 10 years," says Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, a research and consulting firm based in Cambridge, U.K.

Sean Olson, vice president of business development at Unidym, says that touch panels--which are particularly susceptible to the brittleness of ITO--will be the first market that the company will target. He says that Unidym is already working with leading touch-panel makers.

Clear Carbon-Nanotube Films
Fri, 23 Jan 2009 05:00:00 GMT

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