Tokyo, Japan – Researchers at the University of Tokyo have found a way to print flexible displays, meaning wearable displays may be just around the corner.
The scientists have demonstrated a process for making a stretchable display by connecting organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic transistors with a new flexible conductor. The display can then be attached to a curved surface without affecting performance and can even be folded in half or screwed up without damage.
The displays are so flexible that they can be stretched to twice their normal size without failing and the use of printing means that costs can be brought down considerably to enable the production of wearable displays at bearable prices, says Technology Review.
Although flexible displays that can be rolled up already exist, the new technique will mean that complex 3D objects can be covered with the stretchy material for the first time.
The technique combines carbon nanotubes with a liquid containing charged molecules and a liquid polymer to make a nanotube-rubber paste. A high-pressure jet then spreads the nanotubes in the rubber. This makes the nanotube bundles thinner without shortening them and disperses the bundles uniformly in the polymer. The process also increases the material’s viscosity, making it suitable for high-definition screen printing.
The researchers say devices using the new peocess could be on the market within five years.