I can’t wait to see the day when flexible electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, TVs and so on, make their way to the market. Whether they’ll be useful in everyday use or not, it should be fun at least. Anyway, that day is approaching faster and faster, because researchers from University of Manchester and University of Sheffield have found that graphene’s properties could offer the chance to manufacture flexible electronic devices. Not only flexibile, but semi-transparent too. That’s so cool, right?
So, these researchers show that 2D ‘designer materials’ can be produced to create flexible, semi-transparent and efficient electronics. This discovery has been made by Nobel Laureate Kostya Novoselov and his team. They managed to create LEDs which were engineered on an atomic level. The research shows that graphene and 2D materials may be used in order to create light emitting devices for the next generation of smartphones, tablets and TVs. Therefore, the near future will have flexible electronic devices, but they’ll also be incredibly thin, durable and semi-transparent. Wish I could have a time machine so I can jump into that future already.
The LED device was constructed by combining different 2D crystals and emits lights from across its whole surface. Because of its thickness (only 10-40 atoms thick), new components could form the basis for the first generation of semi-transparent devices. One-atom thick was first explored and isolated in 2004 by The University of Manchester. Its potential uses are vast, so it can be used on many types of products, but it seems that electronic devices will have this exclusivity. Since then, 2D materials such as boron nitiride and molybdenum disulphide have been discovered, opening new areas of research and possibilities.
“As our new type of LED’s only consist of a few atomic layers of 2D materials they are flexible and transparent. We envisage a new generation of optoelectronic devices to stem from this work, from simple transparent lighting and lasers and to more complex applications.”, said Freddie Withers, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at The University of Manchester who also led the production of the devices.
“By preparing the heterostructures on elastic and transparent substrates, we show that they can provide the basis for flexible and semi-transparent electronics.”, said Kostya Novoselov.
“The novel LED structures are robust and show no significant change in performance over many weeks of measurements.”, said Prof. Alexander Tartakovskii, from The University of Sheffield.
In conclusion, flexible electronic devices are possible. We have seen many flexible displays lately, but their durability isn’t satisfactory. For example, there is a flexible display which made the rounds all over the Internet a few months ago that allows you to transform the display into a tablet or smartphone mode, but it had only 1000 bending cycles.
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