• Question: What are your nano-materials used for?

    Asked by Aleksandar to Hugh, Triona, Simone, Kieran, Julia, Emily on 15 Nov 2018. This question was also asked by Ben grogan.
    • Photo: Hugh Manning

      Hugh Manning answered on 15 Nov 2018:

      I use nanomaterials to try and make plastic conduct electricity. The reason is, at the moment the material we use in our phone and tv screens and other touch panels is made from a brittle glass like material called Indium Tin-Oxide. This material is grown at high temperatures and if you try to bend it (or drop your phone) it cracks! But it’s a brilliant material because it has these rare properties of being transparent and conducting electricity!
      This is where my nanowires come in. We can spray these nanowires (there’s a video on my profile) onto plastic and other surfaces and make them conduct electricity. This is because the nanowires are made from metal, Silver, and form a highly connected network, but they’re so small they let lots of light through the gaps in the network

      The first picture (a) on the left is taken using a camera, you can’t see anything!. In the middle (b) and the right (c) we use an electron microscope to zoom in really close so that we can look at an measure the size of the individual nanowires.

      The picture on the left (a) has a scale bar of 3cm you can see how wide this is on a ruler, in the middle (b) the scale bar is 30 micrometers, this is about the width of a human hair, on the righthand side (c) the scale bar measures 300 nanometers!

      Picture (a) shows how transparent the plastic is with the nanowires on it, you can see right through it! This material is perfect for the future screens, solar panels and lots of other applications.
      What do you think?