Indium tin oxide, what makes touchscreens touch-sensitive, is almost gone

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Though we like to believe so, iPhone and other touchscreen devices are not “magic” unfortunately, and there is actually some science behind how they work. The thin, transparent material used in current iPhones is called indium tin oxide, and according to some research, the world is running out of it. Industry experts are saying that the world could be out of indium, the metal that is mined to make ITO, within the next decade. To combat this possible scarcity of touchscreen technology materials, experts and researchers gathered at Semicon West in San Francisco this past week in order to look at new alternatives.

Nanotech Biomachines CEO and CTO Will Martinez showed off his companies idea of the next-generation of touchscreen materials, which is called graphene. Using a layer of carbon atoms only one atom thick, it can be bent almost every which way, meaning that it could be used for flexible displays, and to make current generation displays less likely to stop working when experiencing shock damage. Among other alternatives included one that is already in practice: silver nanowires. This is already being used in some devices, and has been tested with flexible displays as well. Hopefully something effective, but cheap enough to stay competitive, will begin going into mainstream devices.

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