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Materials

Refined Silver Nanowires

Long, narrow nanowires make transparent electrodes for lower cost electronic devices

by Mitch Jacoby
May 10, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 19

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Credit: ACS Nano
The long, thin silver nanowires shown in this SEM image could lead to improved transparent electrodes.
8819scib_naonwires_opt.gif
Credit: ACS Nano
The long, thin silver nanowires shown in this SEM image could lead to improved transparent electrodes.

Advances in fabricating silver-nanowire-based electrodes that are transparent, flexible, and robust may lead to low-cost alternative electrode materials for electronics and solar-cell applications, according to a study published in ACS Nano (DOI: 10.1021/nn1005232). A handful of transparent and electrically conductive materials, including indium tin oxide (ITO) and aluminum-doped zinc oxide, are commonly used as electrode materials in organic solar cells and light-emitting diodes. For some applications, especially photovoltaic cells and large-area electronic displays, low-cost substitutes are needed to reduce overall device costs. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are being studied as candidate electrode materials, but their electrical resistance may limit their application. Stanford University’s Liangbing Hu, Han Sun Kim, Yi Cui, and coworkers show that silver nanowires may do the job. The team developed a method for synthesizing long­er and thinner nanowires than previously reported versions, along with procedures for depositing the wires on polymer substrates and fashioning electrodes. Electrodes made via the new methods outperformed most plastic-backed ITO and carbon-based electrodes in terms of standard optical transmittance and electrical resistance parameters, the researchers report.

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