Researchers have recently developed a new nanofilm that has promising possibilities to further benefit solar cells, flexible displays, bendable screens, and self-heating smart windows.

The ultra thin film material is highly electrically conductive, bendable, stretchable, and almost fully transparent.

Researchers think the flexible nanomaterial film would be ideal for future use in wearable electronics and other smart materials.

The nano film was developed by turning a tangled web of nanofibers into a solid substrate through a process called electroplating.

The flexible nanofilm is the result of a collaboration from scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Korea University.

Nanowires
Ultra-thin new nano film

The unique film is both transparent and conductive.  Most materials of this nature tend to be either one or the other at the price of the other one.  While particles that tend to carry light better than others also tend to turn the materials opaque.

Alexander Yarin and Sam Yoon along with their team figured out a way around this common problem by creating a web of electrical conductivity within copper fibers that have holes between them large enough that light is still able to shine through.

The scientists who created the fleible nanofilm coated it with small thin fibers that have small concentrations of metal allowing it to be conductive.  Once the conductivity has occurred, they spin polymer fibers into a intertwined web, coating the fibers again with a thin layer of copper.

Thin film material
“self-junctioned copper nano-chicken wire.”

Once the process is complete, the copper fibers fused at the junctions can conduct electricity with little resistance still allowing the film to be 92 percent transparent.

The “self-junctioned copper nano-chicken wire” could be potentially used to make flexible displays, improve solar cells, create bendable screens, high performance cooling screens and self-heating smart windows.

“It’s important, but difficult, to make materials that are both transparent and conductive,” said Yarin. The copper-plated nanofibers have established a top combination of high transparency and low electrical resistance.

The researchers have said the film can be stretched by 580 percent and still keep about a fifth of its conductivity.

Processes like electrospinning and electroplating are uncomplicated, fast and high-throughput.

The researchers say they could transfer this nano-chicken wire material onto any surface creating nano-textured materials for all sorts of applications.

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