Scientists show off cheap plastic touchscreen
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 28 Jan 2011 at 11:40
A new touchscreen technology could significantly reduce the costs of user-interface displays, according to scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.
The carbon nanotube screens would be built from cheap materials that are available globally, reducing the economic dependence on rare materials that go into today's touchscreens, the scientists said.
Current touchscreens involve a wafer-thin electrode under a glass surface made of indium tin oxide (ITO), but the industry is worried that supplies of ITO are unreliable.
“There are very few deposits of indium anywhere in the world,” the researchers said in a statement. “In the long term, the manufacturers of electronic gadgets are afraid that they will be dependent upon the prices set by suppliers, which is why indium is one of what people call 'strategic metals'."
According to the researchers, their technology could produce screens of a similar quality using materials that are far cheaper, widely available and can be manufactured from renewable sources.
“Its main components are carbon nanotubes and low-cost polymers,” the Fraunhofer team said.
“This new electrode foil is composed of two layers. One is the carrier, a thin foil made of the inexpensive polyethylenterephthalate PET used for making plastic bottles. Then a mixture of carbon nanotubes and electrically conducting polymers is applied to the PET as a solution and forms a thin film when it dries.”
The process, said the scientists, overcame a long-running problem with plastic screens because the carbon elements strengthen the otherwise brittle plastics.
The Fraunhofer team conceded that electrical resistance in the new screens was slightly greater than in ITO, but insisted it was perfectly adequate for touchscreen interaction.
The displays are expected to be unveiled at a nano technology event in Tokyo next month.
I always take any article with a heading that begins, 'Scientists...' with a kilo of salt.
I'll get excited when I see it.
By Noghar on 28 Jan 2011
Fascinating but... 2
We currently use plastic film touch screens (we've been using them for years), but we are looking to switch to 100% class resistive displays, because we get so many damaged screens back at the moment...
Most usually are users jabbing at the screen with a disecting knife or with a chainmailed glove.
By big_D on 28 Jan 2011
I think the plastic layer is under the glass, rather than in front.
That said we have to protect our resistive touch screens with a plastic layer, in case the glass breaks. It does scratch immediately, but you can still see through it.
By tirons1 on 28 Jan 2011
- Adobe Dreamweaver CC review: first look
- Huawei Ascend P6 review: first look
- Adobe Illustrator CC review: first look
- Let MPs tell us what they really want ISPs to block
- Adobe Photoshop CC review: first look
- WWDC 2013 and iOS 7 launch: live blog
- Sony VAIO Pro review: first look
- Want child porn blocked? Meet the IWF
- Is it worth upgrading a media centre to Windows 8?
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Facebook "click on the photo" scams: how they work
- Three alternatives to Word's spelling and grammar checker
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Microsoft Office and the death of upgrades
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts