Sussex scientists on the verge of the unbreakable mobile phone screen

On the verge of an unbreakable screen

On the verge of an unbreakable screen

Sussex scientists are at an advanced stage of coming up with an unbreakable mobile phone screen.

Physicists at the University of Sussex are developing alternative touchscreen technology to overcome the shortfall in the traditional display, phone and tablet material.

This relies on electrodes made from indium tin oxide (ITO).

They have now shown that not only is the material suitable for touchscreens, but that it is possible to produce extremely small patterns (pixels), small enough for high definition LCD displays, such as smartphones and the next generation of television and computer screens.

The study, led by Sussex Professor of Experimental Physics Alan Dalton, investigates some of the intricacies of patterning silver nanowire films to produce detailed electrode structures and help strengthen the material which can be used for touch screens.

The paper, Finite-size scaling in silver nanowire films: design considerations for practical devices, is published in the journal Nanoscale.

Previous research by Professor Dalton’s group has shown that silver nanowires not only match the transmittances and conductivities of ITO films but exceed them.

This makes the material very attractive for touch screens.

However, the group have now shown, for the first time, that this type of nanomaterial is compatible with more demanding applications such as LCD and OLED displays.

Professor Dalton said: “Display technologies such as LCD and OLED form images using pixels. Each pixel of these displays is further broken down into subpixels; typically, one each for red, green and blue colours. In the display in a smartphone, for example, these subpixels are less than a sixth of the width of a human hair - which is also similar in length to the silver nanowires used in our research.”