Stretchable OLED Display
Fully functional stretchable OLED display…
Engineers at UCLA have created the world’s first fully functional stretchable OLED display. While we’ve already seen Sony’s rollable OLED and Samsung’s foldable design, the UCLA display is the first that is not only flexible but stretchy as well.
The major problem that hinders the elasticity of the display is finding a way to maintain conductivity while the panel is being stretched.
Stretachable OLED Display
The clever team at UCLA solved this problem by using carbon nanotubes. However, utilized this new material wasn’t without difficulties as carbon nanotubes have trouble maintaining their shape.
“To make their device entirely pliable, the UCLA researchers devised a novel way of creating a carbon nanotube and polymer electrode and layering it onto a stretchable, light-emitting plastic.” To make the blended electrode, the team coated carbon nanotubes onto a glass backing and added a liquid polymer that becomes solid yet stretchable when exposed to ultraviolet light. The polymer diffuses throughout the carbon nanotube network and dries to a flexible plastic that completely surrounds the network rather than just resting alongside it. Peeling the polymer-and-carbon-nanotube mix off of the glass yields a smooth, stretchable, transparent electrode.” [Technology review]
To fuse the materials that team coated carbon nanotubes with a liquid polymer that becomes solid but stretchable when exposed to UV light. The polymer seeps through the network of nanotubes and then dries as a flexible plastic that completely surrounds the components. The result is a network of stretchable plastic that holds together two layers of carbon nanotubes.
When tested, the team found that the display still emits light even when stretched by 45%. This proof of concept doesn’t mean that we’ll be donning stretchable displays any time too soon, but it does show that the technology to do so is already out there.