Displays created with new process would be transparent

The big benefit of producing displays using organic compounds is that the organic screens are flexible. The flexible nature of organic screens, typically made from carbon materials, is that the screens can be easily molded to follow the contours of a surface.

Reuters reports that researchers announced this week that they have devised a new way to make large-scale flexible displays that can be fitted to the contours of a bus, but are transparent. This would allow for video advertising on the displays, but passengers in the bus could still see out the windows.

The project was funded in part by Ford as a way to design brake lights that would conform to the contours of a car. The breakthrough could also be used to produce devices for medical use like imaging devices that can wrap around a patient like a blanket.

John Rogers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told Reuters, "If you look at these giant billboard displays along the road side, those are made out of inorganic light emitting diodes (LEDs). Our feeling is those systems are quite impressive. The question became is it possible to take that technology and use it in a non-billboard format."

The current technology used to create screens using inorganic materials produces LED lights that have to be arranged individually with a robotic arm. The organic materials can be sprayed or painted onto a film. The catch for inorganic materials is that they are not as bright or durable as traditional LEDs.

Reuters reports that the team of researchers made their breakthrough by building LEDs on a thin film layer that was later dissolved by a chemical. After the film was dissolved, the LEDs left behind were stamped onto a glass, plastic, or rubber surface much as an ink stamp works.

Rogers told Reuters, "The new approach can lift large numbers of small, thin LEDs from the wafer in one step, and then print them onto a substrate in another step."

Once stamped onto a substrate, the LEDs can be connected with wires in a conventional process like the one used to wire computer chips today. The LEDs are bright enough that they can be placed far apart making the panel nearly transparent. This is the second breakthrough in flexible electronics this week, a team of researchers made a breakthrough allowing electrons and holes to flow in one layer this week.

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