This rare metal could soon be replaced in mobile phone screens

Indium tin oxide in organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) has been replaced with graphene, creating a more sustainable technology.

Published Jan 8, 2022 2:31 AM CST   |   Updated Wed, Feb 2 2022 2:30 PM CST
1 minute & 8 seconds read time

Researchers from Paragraf and the Queen Mary University of London have published a new study in the journal Advanced Optical Materials on the potential replacement.

This rare metal could soon be replaced in mobile phone screens 01 |

The researchers successfully fabricated an Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED), where the indium tin oxide (ITO) anode normally used was replaced with a mono-layer graphene anode. Indium is a rare earth metal, one of the nine rarest elements in the Earth's crust, making the European Union's list of critical raw materials. Many smartphone and television screens now come with OLED technology, but indium is also found in a large number of other consumer electronics.

The new technology demonstrates graphene's potential to serve as a viable replacement. Graphene is made from carbon atoms alone and can be sustainably produced, whereas indium's comparative scarcity makes it more expensive and unsustainable. Until now, graphene has had big expectations but hasn't been able to have them fully realized.

"Because of its importance and scarcity there have been many attempts to replace ITO, but no material has been found to have a comparable performance in an electronic or optical device until now," said Professor Colin Humphreys of Queen Mary and Paragraf.

"Our paper is the first paper in the world to demonstrate that graphene can replace ITO in an electronic/optical device. We have shown that a graphene-OLED has identical performance to an ITO-OLED. ITO-OLEDs are widely used as the touch screens on our mobile phones," continued Humphreys.

You can read more from the study here.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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