There is a transparent material applied to your iOS device’s (or any touch enabled smart device for that matter) touch-sensitive screen called Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) that makes it tick. It looks like sources of this coating are dwindling, however, as Gigaom is reporting that industry experts are racing to produce the next big conductive coating.
In preparation of such a catastrophe, experts have begun trying to find alternatives which they presented at the Semicon West conference in San Francisco this week. Some of the potential alternatives included carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires. Both of these technologies could someday become the dominant touchscreen coating.
Some manufacturers are already planning on incorporating ITO alternatives into their devices. Foxconn might begin using carbon nanotubes in the non-Apple devices it makes by the end of 2013, and Samsung is working on prototypes that use graphene, according to Martinez.
Although the future of both carbon nanotube and silver nanowire touchscreen coatings looks bright, there is still a lot of research and development to be done. Still, it is good alternatives exist when supplies of ITO are dwindling.