Innovation may offer breakthroughs for portable devices

Innovation may offer breakthroughs for portable devices

Researchers from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) have created flexible conductors made from carbon nanotubes. The new material is highly competitive with those comprised of metallic oxides, Skoltech’s press office reported. These results might spur the development of more flexible and portable electronics based on carbon nanotubes.

Acording to the press office announcement, the Skoltech scientists succeeded in creating carbon nanotubes films, which have properties on par with those of metal oxide films widely used in electronics. The study's results were published in the journal Carbon.

The films that are referred to here, are thin, transparent and flexible conductors for portable devices that can bend and stretch. Currently, such conductors are manufactured from metallic oxides. However, these films have some drawbacks: they are fragile and inconvenient to use during sunny weather because of the high reflection coefficient and unnatural colors of films.

Organic films made from carbon nanotubes might replace ‘metallic’ ones. To do this, first their optical and electrical properties, which still restrict their application area, need to be improved. The scientific team under the guidance of Professor Albert Nasibulin created carbon nanofilms that are as good as ordinary metallic oxide films. To obtain the improvement, they fine-tuned the alloy process, which entails applying admixtures to a conductor, which then changes the electronic structure of the initial material.

"In our work, we used gold chloride as the most efficient alloying agent. Thanks to its help, we managed to improve the optical and electrical properties of films comprised of monolayer carbon nanotubes. In particular, we optimized the alloying conditions and chose an optimal solvent for the alloying. We studied and presented the effect of several of the most widely-used solvents at different temperatures on optical and electrical characteristics," said the initial author of the study, Skoltech PhD Alexey Tsapenko.

The results of the research indicated that the new flexible conductors have optical and electrical properties that outperform the features previously reported for films made from monolayer carbon nanotubes.