Technology breakthrough paves way for flexible OLED
Highly flexible displays are just round the corner, following a breakthrough in the use of carbon-based graphene. A group of South Korean researchers, headed by Byung Hee Hong, developed a way to “spray” graphene, a material derived from carbon nanotubes, on thin pieces of nickel that are dissolved before attaching the film to a PET polymer.
The graphene is tipped for use in OLED screens, adding momentum to the technology that originally took off in 2007 when it started to be selected for screens in popular gadgets, such as mobile phones and MP3 players.
Although graphene, a material that is one atom thick and maintains electrical conductivity, was orginally produced in 2004 it was extremely cumbersome to make in bulk. However, Byung Lee Hong‘s team claim, in a paper published in prominent scientific journal, Nature, their new technique can produce strong, flexible, conductive sheets, suitable for mass-production.
And whilst scientists are busy working on ways to commercially produce flexible displays, a quick look at Las Vegas‘ CES show demonstrates that major industry players are also ploughing money into flexible OLED technologies. Sony showed off concepts that included a video bracelet and a one screen laptop, with touch screen keyboard. Not to be outdone Samsung unveiled a PDA that opened up into one large screen for watching video.
Finally, the US Army is backing flexible display technology, funding research at Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center. The military want to create small, portable, flexible screens that can provide its soldiers with situational information on a battlefield.
Although projections suggest we won’t see this kind of technology commercially developed, on a large scale, for perhaps another 10 years the research and funding dedicated to the technology indicates people are serious about bringing flexible displays to market.