Researchers from the Duke University have been able to establish that copper nanowires could be used in solar cells and electronic devices such as i-pads, cell phones and e-readers.
At present, films that are used to connect pixels contain indium tin oxide, which is transparent, and has the ability to transmit information. However, a very slow vaporisation process has to be adopted in order to collect the indium tin oxide. Additionally, if the indium tin oxide deposits on the electronic device, it can be cracked. Indium tin oxide also comes at a high cost. To counter these problems scientists from all over the world have invented much cheaper materials to coat or print and make conducting films that are transparent. Silver nanowires are also being considered as a substitute to indium tin oxide but they too come at a cost.
Copper nanowires provide a feasible solution to all these problems as they are cheap and are abundantly available. Though initial research into copper nanowires was not able to display the conductivity of copper as the wires were attached to each other, Duke University researchers have devised a new way of growing and coating the copper nanowires on glass surfaces, thus avoiding clumping of the wires. Unlike Indium tin oxide films, which lose their conductivity and structure after a few bends, copper nanowires did not lose their conductivity and structure even after being bent 1,000 times. Nanoforge, a company founded by Duke University chemist, Ben Wiley, and that which is focused on manufacturing copper nanowires for commercial purposes, has received $45,000 as grant from North Carolina IDEA for large scale production of copper nanowires.