Search for HD flexi-display gets US university boost

AUTHOR: Inavate

The search for flexible displays has been conducted with various successes in the last couple of years, with a high quality, commercially viable solution still evading researchers and manufacturers. Now a team led by the USA’s Stanford and Harvard Universities claims to have uncovered an approach, using organic semiconductors, that could take years off development time.

Organic semiconductors hold immense promise for use in thin film and flexible displays that can be rolled up. However, Stanford University argues that they haven’t yet reached the speeds needed to drive high definition displays. Inorganic materials such as silicon are fast and durable, but don’t bend, so a fast, durable organic semiconductor is needed.

The Stanford/Harvard team says it has developed a new organic semiconductor material that is among the speediest yet. The scientists also accelerated the development process by using a predictive approach that they said lopped many months – and could lop years – off the typical timeline.

For the most part, developing a new organic electronic material has been a time-intensive, somewhat hit-or-miss process, requiring researchers to synthesize large numbers of candidate materials and then test them.

The Stanford and Harvard-led group decided to try a computational predictive approach to substantially narrow the field of candidates before expending the time and energy to make any of them.

“Synthesizing some of these compounds can take years,” said Anatoliy Sokolov, a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering at Stanford, who worked on synthesizing the material the team eventually settled on. “It is not a simple thing to do.”

Sokolov works in the laboratory of Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. They are among the authors of a paper describing the work, published in the Aug. 16 issue of Nature Communications. Alán Aspuru-Guzik, an associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, led the research group there and directed the theory and computation efforts.

The researchers used a material known as DNTT, which had already been shown to be a good organic semiconductor, as their starting point, then considered various compounds possessing chemical and electrical properties that seemed likely to enhance the parent material’s performance if they were attached.

The researchers hope their predictive approach can serve as a blueprint for other research groups working to find a better material for organic semiconductors.

Image shows a single crystal of the new organic semiconductor material shown in polarized light. It is approximately twice as fast as the parent organic material from which it was derived. The white scale bar at the bottom center of the photo represents 10 microns (10 millionths of a meter).