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Researchers Reveal Embedded Ag/Ni Metal-Mesh with Low Surface Roughness as Transparent Conductive Electrode

Nov 21, 2017     Email"> PrintText Size

Flexible transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs) have recently received great attention from both academic community and industrial sectors due to the rapid development of rollable or foldable displays. Metal-mesh TCE is particularly attractive because it exhibited extremely low sheet resistance at high optical transmittance and good mechanical flexibility among all kinds of flexible TCEs. 

However, most of metal-mesh TCEs have a common feature in their fabricated method, i.e. the metallic lines are made on the surface of substrate, which is fine for touch panel applications but problematic when used for optoelectronic devices. 

Recently, Prof. CUI Zheng's group at the Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics (SINANO) of Chinese Academy of Sciences has fabricated an extremely smooth Ag/Ni metal-mesh TCE with the surface roughness of 0.17 nm. The results were published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 

In this study, a new method was presented by researchers to make highly flat metal-mesh TCEs. Instead of a full filling of the trenches with Ag ink, the trenches are partially filled and then electroplated with Nickel (Ni). The slightly over plated Ni mesh lines are polished back to create a highly smooth surface with roughness of only 0.17 nm. 

There is no gap or step between the polished metal Ni lines and the nonconducting region. The polished Ag/Ni metal-mesh TCEs achieved high conductivity with 2.1 Ω/□ sheet resistance and 88.6% optical transparency. 

Researchers further studied the flexibility by bending test and environmental stability and revealed that Ag/Ni metal-mesh TCE has good mechanical flexibility and environmental stability at high temperature and humidity. 

The polished Ag/Ni metal-mesh TCE was applied in the flexible quantum dot light emitting diodes (QLED), which presents an efficiency of 10.4 cd/A and 3.2 lm/W at 1000 cd/m2. This work contributed to metal-mesh TCE to avoid electrical short-circuits or current leakage in optoelectronic devices. 

This work is supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Program on Key Research Project, Science Foundation of Two sides of Strait, Program on Key Research Project of Jiangsu Province of China and Youth Innovation Promotion Association. 

 

Figure: (a) Schematics for fabrication process of Ag/Ni metal-mesh TCE; (b) Schematics of cross profiles about metal-mesh TCE. (Image by SINANO) 

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(Editor: LIU Jia)

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