Twisted tale of UCLA's stretchy electronic display technology

OLED breakthrough could let you double your smartphone screen size on the fly

UCLA researchers have developed OLED (organic light-emitting device) technology that they say could one day enable ultimate flexibility for electronic displays.

One scenario: Using the ultra-stretchable OLED technology to enable smartphone users to expand their device screen sizes on the fly. The rubbery material would be twistable and foldable and return to its original shape.

Other applications might include clothing-based electronics and minimally invasive medical instruments.

"Our new material is the building block for fully stretchable electronics for consumer devices," said Qibing Pei, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering and principal investigator on the research, in a statement. "Along with the development of stretchable thin-film transistors, we believe that fully stretchable interactive OLED displays that are as thin as wallpaper will be achieved in the near future. And this will give creative electronics designers new dimensions to exploit."

The material comprises a layer of electro-luminescent polymer blend in between a pair of transparent elastic composite electrodes made from silver nonwires embedded in a rubbery polymer.

It sounds like these researchers had some fun, stretching and restretching their OLED 1,000 times and finding it would still work fine.

The National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research-funded work has been published in the journal Nature Photonics. The lead author is Jiajie Liang, a postdoctoral scholar in Pei's Soft Materials Research Laboratory at UCLA.

Many eyes within the computing and telephony industry are on OLED advances. Samsung, for one, just snapped up a German OLED specialist called Novaled.

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