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Ultra-thin, flexible touchscreens could be printed like newspaper


An ultra-thin, flexible electronic material that can be printed and rolled out like newspaper could be the touchscreens of the future.

Ultra thin touchscreens image showing curved screen with white text on black paper

Researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have succeeded in developing an ultra-thin, flexible electronic material that can be printed and rolled out like newspaper. It could be used for the touchscreens of the future.

Their so-called “liquid metal” approach takes a thin film of material already common in mobile phone touchscreens and shrinks it from 3D to 2D nano-sheets. In the process, the transparent material, known as indium-tin oxide, has its crystalline structure transformed such that it exhibits new mechanical and optical properties. Such properties include increased flexibility; enabling it to be rolled and twisted, and greater transparency; allowing more light to penetrate it.

The researchers claim that a mobile phone with a touchscreen made of their material would use less power, extending battery life by approximately 10%. Better still, this new electronic material can be made efficiently and cheaply - unlike the slow, expensive way that touchscreens are currently manufactured.

While still at an early stage of development, this innovative technology promises a range of exciting applications beyond the displays and form factors of mobile electronic devices. It could also have the potential for use in LEDs, solar cells and smart windows.