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.