What is Transparent Conductive Film? | IVS Tech

What is Transparent Conductive Film?  

Many people don’t notice it, but transparent conductive films are everywhere. You see them in hospitals, farms, schools, factories, offices, homes, and other settings.

It powers many industries around the world. Because of this, experts forecast the transparent conductive film market to grow from $2.769 million to a whopping $9.7 billion by 2028. This growth is anticipated to be driven by increased adoption of touch interface devices and a  rising demand for tablets and notebooks globally.  

But what is transparent conductive film? What is it made of? We’ll answer all of these for you below.

Transparent Conductive Film Explained

Solar cells, smart boards used in schools and offices, anesthesia machines, and lung monitors. These are just some of the things where industrial transparent conductive films are used.

Transparent Conductive Film (TCF) is a thin layer of film that’s optically transparent yet electrically conductive. These two characteristics make it ideal to use when a device or machine calls for a material that allows the flow of electric current through it without blocking out the light.

On top of that, TCFs are also flexible, highly resilient, and have minimal reflection which is why it’s a component highly desired by many manufacturers.

What Is It Made Of?

The transparent conductive film can be made of five common types of materials including: 

  • Indium tin oxide (ITO);
  • Graphene;
  • Carbon nanotube (CNT);
  • Silver nanowires; and
  • Metal mesh films; 

Indium Tin Oxide

Indium Tin Oxide or ITO was first used in the making of transparent conductive films between the late 1950s to early 1960s. There was a growing demand for transparent electrodes in emerging technologies at the time (e.g. liquid crystal displays) and the unique properties of ITO made it a suitable material to use.

Indium Tin Oxide was—and still is—the most commonly used material in making transparent conductive film because of two things. One, it has superior electrical and optical properties compared to other materials. And two, it is very resistant— about 10 Ω per square meter—and has a transmittance of 90%.

Despite the upside, ITOs are not flexible and crack easily as their size increases. They are also a scarce, nonrenewable metal—only 900 metric tons were mined worldwide in 2022. There are also many challenges associated with its extraction.

This makes it expensive costing approximately $564.80 per kilogram as of November 2023. 


Like ITO, graphene also has excellent conductivity, even surpassing that of indium tin oxide. But unlike ITO which tends to be brittle and prone to cracking when bent, graphene is inherently flexible, making it highly suitable for flexible electronics. 

It also doesn’t lose its stability even with increased size and is generally robust, thanks to its high electron density. Graphene also has the capacity to maintain its properties under various environmental conditions while ITOs are only stable under normal conditions.

The downside? Large-scale production of high-quality graphene is a complex and energy-intensive process that requires expensive equipment. These factors push the price to go up. They are also vulnerable to impurities which can affect their performance. 

There are ongoing studies and advancements in the production methods of graphene for transparent conductive films. Once these have been refined, graphene can certainly be considered as one of the most promising materials to replace ITO.

Carbon Nanotubes

Another promising alternative to ITO is carbon nanotubes or CNTs. CNTs have received a lot of attention from the electronics industry in the past years because of their high conductivity and processability.

They are stable—they don’t require doping to maintain conductivity. They are also physically resilient and have a transparency that can be tuned to your liking. Like graphene, carbon nanotubes are actively being researched and developed for commercial production.

Silver Nanowires

The increasing need for transparent conductive films caused researchers to extensively look into metal nanowires. But out of all the metals used as nanostructures, silver has the best conducting capacity. 

Aside from being an excellent conductor of electricity, silver nanowires are also flexible and optically transparent—they are incredibly efficient at absorbing and scattering light. And because they are abundant in nature, they also don’t cost as much.

However, silver nanowire has a tendency to aggregate causing it to haze and affect its transparency. This makes silver nanowires to be a less-than-ideal choice for high-end applications of transparent conductive films.

Currently, researchers are working on fabricating a transparent conductive film made from silver nanowires that has ultra-low haze.

Metal Mesh Films

Metal mesh films have shown promise in different optoelectronic devices. Not only do they have low resistance and high transmissivity, but they are also bendable and a low-cost material.  

They can be fabricated using scalable manufacturing processes which makes them suitable for large-scale production. Metal mesh patterns can also be engineered so you can control the precise transparency and conductivity of the film.

While metal mesh films have several advantages in the making of transparent conductive films, they also have drawbacks. One, they can sometimes produce interference patterns, or what’s called moiré patterns, which can impact the visual quality of displays.

It also has resolution limitations and can reduce optical clarity especially when the density of the mesh is increased to achieve lower sheet resistance. Note, however, that there are ongoing research and development efforts that aim to address these challenges.

IVS-Tech’s F Series transparent conductive film

Your Source of High-Quality Transparent Conductive Films

IVS-Tech has been providing world-class transparent conductive film for different clients all over the world since 2012. We offer TCF with low resistance, narrow circuit width, and superior folding endurance that’s also environment-friendly.

Whether you need more laminations or large sizes of transparent conductive film, we have your back. We specialize in crafting custom solutions that are exclusive and tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today for a personalized consultation or visit our website to learn more about our transparent conductive films and other services.


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