When mobile phones first came into existence they were big and unattractive. Several researchers then worked on making them compact and desirable. People gradually warmed up to the technology and embraced it as it allowed them to communicate on the move. There have been several advancements since, catering to various demands of the users. A group of researchers has now developed a way to make the cell phone multipurpose – you can fold it up and keep it in your pocket or wallet, stretch the screen to make it a tablet, or wrap it around your wrist like a watch.
This next step in the development of digital displays has been made possible by researchers at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University. Led by Chuan Wang, Assistant Professor in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, the researchers have developed a new material that has the best of both technologies — LEDs and OLEDs — and a novel way to fabricate it, using an inkjet printer. Their research has been published in the journal Advanced Materials.
The researchers used the inkjet fabrication method, instead of the traditional spin art method to create a particular type of crystalline material called an organometal halide (Omh) perovskite. This organic-inorganic compound makes the display flexible. From there, the Perovskite light-emitting diodes (PeLEDs) can be recovered.
“Because it comes in a liquid form, we imagined we could use an inkjet printer,” Wang was quoted in a release published on EurekaAlert. Also, inkjet fabrication saves materials as it deposits perovskite only where it’s needed. The process is much faster, cutting time from 5 hours to 25 minutes,” said Wang.
“Imagine having a device that starts out the size of a cellphone but can be stretched to the size of a tablet”.
These PeLEDs may be just the first step in an electronics revolution. They could make walls light up or even display the day’s newspaper. They can be used to make wearable devices, like a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen. Most excitingly, they can allow manufacturers to print stretchable devices.