Sandwiching Ferric Chloride between two layers of graphene results in the most flexible, transparent conductive material ever, according to scientists at Exeter University.
In a paper in Advanced Materials, the scientists describe how the sandwiching improves graphene’s poor conductivity – relative to the current transparent conductor of choice in electronics: Indium Tin Oxide (ITO).
In the abstract, the authors write: "FeCl3-FLGs outperform the current limit of transparent conductors such as indium tin oxide, carbon-nanotube films, and doped graphene materials. This makes FeCl3-FLG materials the best transparent conductors for optoelectronic devices."
A replacement for ITO needs to be found as it's scarcity – world supplies are expected to be depleted by 2017 - is pushing prices upward. But graphene has long been touted as a likely replacement, largely because it is more transparent and much more flexible. So where ITO does a great job of being a smart screen, graphene could be incorporated into far more flexible devices, or even clothing.
The problem has been that graphene’s so-called sheet resistance limits its conductivity. Layering it with ferric chloride overcomes this, without sacrificing transparency.
In the press announcementthe Exeter team says that the next step is to develop a spray-on version of their material, which could be applied directly to windows, fabric and other surfaces.