Newly Found Nano Film is Light, Transparent, Unique and Futuristic: Scientists

A team of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, have discovered a new nano-scale thin film material with the highest-ever conductivity in its class. Close up of it showing transparent smartphone with icon set on screen. Photo: Univ of Minnesota

Researchers from the University of Minnesota in the US have discovered a new material which is transparent for light to pass through with highest known conductivity that can revolutionize the way future electronic devices are made, including helping in the most ambitious space elevator project.

The scientists grew a BaSnO3 thin film, a combination of barium, tin and oxygen, called barium stannate, but replaced elemental tin source with a chemical precursor of tin that has unique, radical properties to enhance the chemical reactivity. It also improved the metal oxide formation process and both barium and tin are abundantly available and significantly cheaper than indium.

Its high conductivity allows this nano-scale thin film material unique as it allows high conductivity, which means more electricity and more powerful, said Bharat Jalan, professor at University of Minnesota and the lead researcher on the study.

It possesses a wide bandgap allowing light to easily pass through and making it optically transparent and yet has ahigh conductivity. In most cases, materials with wide bandgap have either low conductivity or poor transparency.

“The high conductivity and wide bandgap make this an ideal material for making optically transparent conducting films which could be used in a wide variety of electronic devices,” said Jalan. The thin nano-material can be used in high power electronics, electronic displays, mobile and laptop touchscreens and even solar cells, he said.

The new nano-particle can replace the use of highly expensive chemical indium as the transparent conductor in electronics. Indium’s price has gone up in the last few years as it is crucial in display technology, researchers said.

The new thin film is an effective alternative with more applications and still be better than indium-based transparent conductors, researchers said.

In the new study, researchers developed a transparent conducting thin film using a novel synthesis method, in which they grew a BaSnO3 thin film (a combination of barium, tin and oxygen, called barium stannate), but replaced elemental tin source with a chemical precursor of tin.

“We were quite surprised at how well this unconventional approach worked the very first time we used the tin chemical precursor,” said first author of the paper Abhinav Prakash, who is a graduate student at University of Minnesota.

The paper was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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