Researchers have made an advance toward a long-sought goal of building "invisible electronics" and transparent displays.

The work could eventually lead to better heads-up displays for pilots or even windshield displays and cars, as well as electronic paper that could deliver all the contents of a magazine or a newspaper on one, ever-changing, portable and perhaps even disposable sheet. Another goal: wearable electronic clothing displays.

The scientists, led by Chongwu Zhou and colleagues at UCLA developed tiny, transparent electronic circuits they say are more powerful than similar devices developed in recent years.

The work was detailed in the Jan. 27 issue of ACS Nano, a monthly journal.

In the new study, Chongwu Zhou and colleagues point out that although scientists have previously developed nano-sized transparent circuits, previous versions are limited to a handful of materials that are transparent semiconductors.

The newly created transparent thin-film transistors (TTFTs) are composed of highly aligned, single-walled carbon nanotubes — each about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. The transistors are transparent and flexible.

Laboratory experiments showed that TTFTs could be easily applied to glass and plastic surfaces, and showed promise in other ways for a range of possible practical applications, the scientists said.