New material could enable wearable electronics.
The University of Exeter in England have created the most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity. Called GraphExeter, the material could revolutionise the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players.
GraphExeter could also be used for the creation of ‘smart’ mirrors or windows, with computerised interactive features. Since this material is also transparent over a wide light spectrum, it could enhance by more than 30% the efficiency of solar panels.
Adapted from graphene, GraphExeter is much more flexible than indium tin oxide (ITO), the main conductive material currently used in electronics. ITO is becoming increasingly expensive and is a finite resource, expected to run out in 2017.
To create GraphExeter, the Exeter team sandwiched molecules of ferric chloride between two layers of graphene. Ferric chloride enhances the electrical conductivity of graphene, without affecting the material’s transparency.