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New Transparent Metal Film Developed to Compete With ITO


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Indium tin oxide, or ITO, is a transparent conductor that is used in a great many displays, but because indium is a rare and expensive material, researchers have been searching for a replacement for years now. Many alternatives have been created, but none have quite matched the optical and electrical properties needed to replace ITO. Now researchers at Penn State have discovered that a class of materials that can compete with ITO, while being significantly cheaper.

These materials are known as correlated metals, which differ from conventional metals because of how their electrons flow. In normal metals the electrons move like particles in a gas, but in a correlated metal they can interact with each other, like particles in a liquid. This actually grants the materials high optical transparency and metal-like conductivity, and when light shines on it, it becomes even more transparent. The two materials the researchers specifically worked with were strontium vanadate and calcium vanadate, but the work could lead to other correlated metals being discovered.

Right now a kilogram of indium costs about $750, and as we use the limited supply, its price will increase even more, while vanadium, which is far more common, costs just $25 per Kg, and strontium is even cheaper. Combined with the potential of being able to just replace ITO with strontium vanadate in the manufacturing process and it becomes an even more enticing alternative.

Source: Penn State

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