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NO.422 07.30.2018

Translucent Electrodes Using Silver

Industries often use silver because of its superior electrical conductivity


When silver is finely cut into thin wires (1?m, 1/50 thickness of a strand of hair), a change occurs in the original property of the material, making it transparent. Using these advantages, transparent electrodes can be created. However, the light scattering effect in nanowires has posed challenges in applying this technology to the industry, because the dispersion causes the glass surface to appear scratched up and foggy.

Professor Sun Kyung Kim and Student Sang Woo Kim (Applied Physics, ‘11) of the Department of Applied Physics have identified a solution to this problem through an independent learning & research project. The findings have been published in an internationally renowned scholarly journal Nano Letters. In this article, Student Kim is listed as the first author, and Professors Kim and Jang-Ung Park (Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology [UNIST]) as corresponding authors.

Independent research delves deeper and expands on what was learned in class
Professor Kim explained the outcome of the study and said, “Existing transparent nanowire electrodes were not completely translucent. In this study, oxide films were used to suppress the light scatter and to create uniform dispersion; as a result, despite the scattered structure of the nanowires, the glass surface achieved optical transparency and clear images.”


Currently, the market for transparent electrodes, seen in touch screens for smartphones, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and solar batteries, is dominated (99%) by ITO (Indium Tin Oxide). However, the nanowires, developed by Professor Kim and Sang Woo, offer dramatically superior levels of transparency and electrical conductivity. They have delivered a greatly improved transparent nanowire electrode.




This research began in March 2017, when Student Kim joined the Nano-Optics Lab, supervised by Professor Kim, to embark on his independent research. Student Kim recalled, “I decided to do an independent research because I wanted to apply what I had learned in class. There were occasional challenges when the study data did not generate the results I wished for.” To this comment, Professor Kim responded, “Students learn through failure. In college, there is sufficient learning in simply identify the cause of the failure.”


It is unusual to publish a research article in Nano Letters with an undergraduate student as the first author. Professor Kim offers an explanation: “Those who work diligently in class also do well in research. Initial introduction to theory of physics could seem to make little sense; however, with thorough learning, one can develop the ability to apply theory to practice and to obtain research benefits.”


Ultimate goal is to achieve ‘artificial control of light scattering’
Professor Kim, who claims “the important thing in Physics is being able to explain the results,” continues to analyze the silver nanowire mechanism with Student Kim through his independent research project. They are trying to prove whether the mechanism can be used to perform oxide film technology not only in wire structures, but also in structures having various other dimensions. Subsequently, he plans to study copper, which yields better economic value, compared to silver, in industrial application.


Light scatters; this is both a law and a challenge in physics. Professor Kim’s ultimate goal is to artificially control light dispersion that happens in all materials.


“If what you learn in class ends there, it leads to ‘knowledge death.’ However, if you use your hands to feel how they can be utilized in the fields, it becomes ‘living knowledge’.” This is what Professor Kim preaches to his class, in his effort to encourage further research. He also emphasized, “Kyung Hee has many high-caliber labs. In addition to independent research, the University provides many other programs, such as individual research and graduation research, which enable students to engage in research activities.”


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