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Hold on to your shorts, boys and girls, because the electronics industry is headed for a revolution. The University of Exeter has developed a material that researchers are hailing the world’s lightest and most flexible electrical conductor. The carbon-based “GraphExeter,” as it’s dubbed, can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including wearable electronics such as cellphones, MP3 players, and circuitry-enhanced clothing. Plus, because the material is transparent over a broad spectrum of light, it can also enhance the efficiency of solar panels by more than 30 percent.
NO “I” IN INNOVATION
Adapted from graphene, the thinnest substance capable of conducting electricity, GraphExeter is even more flexible than indium tin oxide (ITO), the main conductive material currently used in electronics. Its timing couldn’t be better: ITO is a finite and increasingly expensive resource, with quantities expected to run out in 2017.
The researchers are working on a sprayable version that can be applied to fabrics, mirrors, and windows directly.
The Exeter team created GraphExeter by cementing two layers of graphene with molecules of ferric chloride, which enhances graphene’s electrical conductivity without affecting its transparency. Now that their findings have been published in the journal Advanced Materials, the researchers are working on a sprayable version that can be applied to fabrics, mirrors, and windows directly.
“GraphExeter could revolutionize the electronics industry,” says Monica Craciun, the lead researcher from the university’s Centre for Graphene Science. “It outperforms any other carbon-based transparent conductor used in electronics and could be used for a range of applications. We are very excited about the potential of this material and look forward to seeing where it can take the electronics industry in the future.”