Documenting the Coming Singularity

Monday, May 11, 2009

Plastic man's screen - Stretchable Displays

Technology Review - May 11, 2009, by Prachi Patel

Display drape: New printable elastic conductors made of carbon nanotubes are used to connect OLEDs in a stretchable display that can be spread over a curved surface. Credit: Takao Someya, the University

An elastic conductor makes possible cheap, conformable displays.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have moved a step closer to displays and simple computers that you can wear on your sleeve or wrap around your couch. And they have opened up the possibility of printing such devices, which would make them cheap.

Takao Someya, an electrical-engineering professor, and his colleagues make a stretchable display by connecting organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic transistors with a new rubbery conductor. The researchers can spread the display over a curved surface without affecting performance. The display can also be folded in half or crumpled up without incurring any damage.

In a previous Science paper, the researchers used their elastic conductor--a mix of carbon nanotubes and rubber--to make a stretchy electronic circuit. The new version of the conductor, described online in Nature Materials, is significantly more conductive and can stretch to more than twice its original size. What's more, it can be printed. Combined with printable transistors and OLEDs, this could pave the way for rolling out large, cheap, wearable displays and electronics.

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