Researchers Discover Self-Healing Nanowire Properties

Silver nanowires are one option to replace ITO as a conductive material in displays – they are lower-cost and flexible – but research has been limited due to a lack of understanding about their mechanical properties.

Horacio Espinosa is a researcher at Northwestern University in the USA, and has led an examination into nanowires’ behaviour. Espinosa and his team investigated the material’s cyclic loading, which shows how the nanowires react to fluctuating loads of stress. “Knowledge of such behaviour allows designers to understand how these conductive films fail and how to improve their durability”, said Espinosa.

The research team was able to characterise the cyclic mechanical behaviour of silver nanowires by varying the tension on nanowires thinner than 120nm, monitoring their deformation with electron microscopy. They discovered that permanent deformation is partially recoverable – in simple terms, some of the defects healed themselves and disappeared upon cyclic loading. The results indicate that silver nanowires may be able to withstand strong and prolonged cyclic loads: a key requirement for use in flexible electronics.

The results can be found at

Analyst Comment

This research was published in January – we missed it in the CES/ISE rush. Our apologies. (TA)