A new discovery regarding the metals required in the creation of screens for handheld devices brings up the news that smartphone screens may become cheaper and better in the near future. Taking into account the constant increase in popularity smartphones and Smart TVs are currently having, this discovery will surely bring a switch in the present market.
Up to this point, screens were created through the use of ITO, indium tin oxide, a conglomerate of metals that conduct electricity and command pixels to create images. But to the high demand this metal has gained, it has become scarce around the world. It has even become more expensive than silver, with one gram selling for double the silver price.
The new material was discovered at the Penn State Materials Research Institute and it consists of a base formed by correlated metals. These metals are given the shape of films with the thickness of 10 nanometers and present a higher efficiency rate as well as a more affordable price.
The metals in question are calcium vanadate and strontium vanadate. Together they allow electrons to function and flow like a liquid, different from usual metals that make electrons act like a gas. Even though they are metals, by changing their effective mass of their electron composition, researchers can tune their transparency.
Because electrons act as a liquid inside of these correlated metals, they function dependently on each other, compared to gas where they act independently. Add to this the decrease in reflectiveness, creating a higher grade of transparency, and these metals might be the perfect alternative to ITO screens.
The difference in price between indium tin oxide and the components required for the fabrication of the new correlated metals is staggering. One kilogram, 2.2 pounds, of ITO is priced at $750 while the others are around $30 to $40 in total. This is extensively boosted by the fact that correlated metals are much more common than ITO.
This finding is not only applied to regular screens that use ITO. Solar panels can also benefit from this discovery, making them extremely affordable with an added increase in efficiency. This might bring an age where every home will be equipped with solar panels in order to rely less on the electricity provided by fossil fuel plants.
The main problem that this discovery faces at this point is its application in the current market. Because of its new nature, screen factories and other similar manufacturers will have to completely revamp their production line in order for them to house correlated metals. This will prove to be a rather arduous and extensive task to complete. But the sacrifice will be necessary, considering that one day, if the smartphone markets will continue their present growth, ITO might even overthrow gold in its price.
Because smartphone screens may become cheaper in the near future, as well as TV screens and solar panels, a larger part of the public masses will be able to afford said devices. But the extensive applications of the new correlated metals are not only limited to screens, making their discovery a rather important leap in the research of new materials.