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New Research Advances How Touchscreens Are Made

Touch Responsive Technology
Photo Credit: RMIT University

Australia’s RMIT University is leading a team of researchers who have developed an ultra-thin and ultra-flexible electronic material.

This material could be printed and rolled out like newspaper, for the touchscreens of the future.

About the Initiative

According to a recent press release, the touch-responsive technology is 100 times thinner than existing touchscreen materials and so pliable it can be rolled up like a tube.

To create the new conductive sheet, the team used a thin film common in mobile phone touchscreens and shrunk it from 3D to 2D, using liquid metal chemistry.

The nano-thin sheets are readily compatible with existing electronic technologies.

Because of their incredible flexibility, it could potentially be manufactured through roll-to-roll (R2R) processing just like a newspaper.

To create the new type of atomically-thin indium-tin oxide (ITO), the researchers used a liquid metal printing approach.

An indium-tin alloy is heated to 200C, where it becomes liquid, and then rolled over a surface to print off nano-thin sheets of indium tin oxide.

These 2D nano-sheets have the same chemical make-up as standard ITO but a different crystal structure, giving them exciting new mechanical and optical properties.

The research, with collaborators from UNSW, Monash University and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET), is published in the journal Nature Electronics.

Benefits

  • Lead researcher Dr Torben Daeneke explained that most mobile phone touchscreens were made of a transparent material, indium-tin oxide, which was very conductive but also very brittle.
  • The old material was taken and transformed from the inside in order to create a new version that is supremely thin and flexible.
  • It can be bent, twisted and can be made far more cheaply and efficiently than the slow and expensive way touchscreens are currently manufactured.
  • Turning it two-dimensional also makes it more transparent, so it lets through more light.
  • Thus, a mobile phone with a touchscreen made of this material will use less power, extending the battery life by roughly 10%.
  • On top of being fully flexible, the new type of ITO absorbs just 0.7% of light, compared with the 5-10% of standard conductive glass. To make it more electronically conductive, more layers need to be added.
  • It is a pioneering approach that cracks a challenge that was considered unsolvable. There is no other way of making this fully flexible, conductive and transparent material aside from the new liquid metal method.
  • The research team has now used the new material to create a working touchscreen, as a proof-of-concept, and have applied for a patent for the technology.
  • The material could also be used in many other optoelectronic applications, such as LEDs and touch displays, as well as potentially in future solar cells and smart windows.
  • The team is at the stage now where they can explore commercial collaboration opportunities and work with the relevant industries to bring the technology to market.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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