16 May New silver application to increase demand
New research from the English University of Surrey claims silver may be the key main ingredient in the making of flexible touchscreens, which could see prices rocket as demand increases.
The team of researchers published a paper stating how silver nanowires are the ideal material for flexible touchscreen technologies.
Silver prices hit their largest monthly gain since August 2013 last month and last week peaked at US$18.
Touchscreen gadgets currently rely on electrodes made from indium tin oxide (ITO), a brittle and expensive material to source and process.
M-SOLV Ltd, an Oxford based touch-sensor manufacturer and a team of scientists led by Professor Alan Dalton established that silver non-wire seem to be the strongest competitor to alternate materials explored in recent years including graphene, carbon nanotubes and random metal nanowire films.
Silver nanowires are over a thousand times thinner than a human hair and create an interconnected conductive network, the experts noted.
Matthew Large, first author on the research said: “Our research hasn’t just identified silver nanowires as a viable replacement for touchscreen material, but has gone one step further in showing how a process called ‘ultrasonication’ can allow us to tailor performance capabilities.”
The team is now hoping to develop the scalability of the process to make it more industrially feasible.
Only an estimated 30 per cent of global output is from main silver mines, less than the by-product production at zinc and lead mines. The volume of silver usage is also used in industrial applications such as alloys, photovoltaic, electronics and in ethylene oxide production.