Ultra-thin, flexible touchscreens could be printed like newspaper
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.