Researchers from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have created a flexible, transparent electrode heater that can be used for a variety of applications, including defrosting car mirrors and heating up parts of the human body. The study marks the first electronic device created from metallic glass, which possesses a disordered structure contrary to the organized crystalline structure of standard metals.

Although metallic glasses have been around since the 1960s, the new device marks the first time that its appealing commercial properties, such as flexibility, stability and transparency, have been highlighted.

"We think that the ductile properties of metallic glasses are well-suited for stretchable, transparent electrodes and heaters," Jang-Ung Park, co-author of the study, told

The device takes advantage of a metallic glass made of copper-zirconium alloy, which they used to created a web of two metals by inserting them into a polymer web scaffold. The resulting metal web network was then moved to a flexible substrate in order to be utilized as an electrode.

In order use the electrode as a heater, the team of researchers combined the metallic web into a silicone material (PDMS) and connected it to a power source. They found that the heating pad could reach temperatures of 180 degrees Celsius while at the same time being stretched more than one and a half times its original length and maintaining resistance. They then designed a wireless control for the device's temperature, highlighting its potential for thermotherapy.

Although current results are promising, the researchers hope to further explore the potential benefits of metallic glasses for future transparent and stretchable devices.

The findings were published in the Dec. 15 issue of Nano Letters.