Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes is reporting that TPK Holding is gearing up to product nanowire-based flexible touchscreens. TPK is on Apple’s supplier list so there’s a high likelihood that future iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices could switch to these flexible screens based on nano silver ink. Originally developed by 3M, silver nanowire films are flexible and transparent to the eye, making them feasible for wearable devices particular.
iPhone 7 to have nanowire display?
According to TPK president and CEO Michael Chung, the supplier has obtained about 200 patents concerning nano silver technology and has found new materials to replace indium tin oxide, which is currently being used in rigid touch panels.
However, it will be a few years until the technology is fully commercialized, either as soon as two years or as late as three to five, Chung noted. Still, TPK expects its clients to launch “high-end devices equipped with TPK-developed nano silver-based flexible touch panels in the second half of 2016,” the CEO indicated.
What’s the deal with nanowire screens?
Meant to replace indium tin oxide (ITO), which has been used for traditional flat panels, this new technology taps a mesh of tiny silver wires, measuring approximately one nanometer in diameter.
Nano wires have better conductive properties than indium tin oxide, allowing for improved touch sensing and multiple pressure levels when drawing with your finger.
Silver nanowire layers are also transparent to the eye.
The rumor-mill thought the iPad Pro would arrive with a nanowire-based display technology but no teardown analysis as of yet has established this as a fact. Supply chain reports last year suggested that Apple was evaluating samples of nanowire-based panels from LG Display, Samsung Display, Japan Display and others.