Dr Behnam Akhavan in the plasma lab. Credit: Dr Behnam Akhavan
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, July 22, 2021

Full article issued by The University of Sydney.

A team led by Dr Behnam Akhavan, an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awardee (DECRA) from The University of Sydney, has developed a low-cost, sustainable, and readily available technology that can dim the screens of electronic devices, anti-reflection automobile mirrors, and smart architectural windows at a fraction of the cost of current technology. 

It would replace one of the world’s scarcest – yet highly ubiquitous in use – modern materials: indium, a rare chemical element widely used in devices such as smartphones and computers, windscreen glass and self-dimming windows.

Although small amounts are used to manufacture smart device screens, indium is expensive as it is hard to source; it naturally occurs only in small deposits. Industrial indium is often made as a byproduct of zinc mining, which means a shortage could occur if demand for optoelectronic devices, such as LCDs and touch panels, ramps up.

'When you change the transparency of a wearable electronic or a smart window, an electrochromic device is doing the work,' said Dr Akhavan.

'Until now, these devices have typically relied on materials like rare indium to do the job. What we have created is a manufacturer’s dream: a technology that removes the need for indium and instead uses a plasma-engineered, three-layered structure that is much cheaper to produce.'

Photo credit: 

Dr Behnam Akhavan in the plasma lab. Credit: Dr Behnam Akhavan.