Flexible screen throws new light on LED development
Researchers from the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield have developed a new prototype semi-transparent, graphene-based LED device that could form the basis of flexible screens for use in the next-generation of mobile phones, tablets and televisions, plus numerous applications in the automotive industry. The incredibly thin display, created using sandwiched ‘heterostructures’, is only 10-40 atoms thick and emits a sheet of light across its entire surface.
The University of Manchester has a long history of working with graphene, first isolating the material of single-atom thickness through mechanical exfoliation (using adhesive tape) back in 2004. Since then, research has also branched out into other promising 2D material structures, including boron nitride and molybdenum disulphide.
The culmination of these areas of experimentation is the new 2D LED semiconductor built using a combination of metallic graphene, insulating hexagonal boron nitride and various semiconducting monolayers.
It is this construction using LEDs engineered at an atomic level that allowed the team to produce their breakthrough device. As such, the work shows that graphene, combined with other flexible 2D materials) is not just limited to simple electronic displays, but could be exploited to create light emitting devices that are not only incredibly thin, but flexible, semi-transparent and intrinsically bright.
This inherent elasticity and translucence also means that the device shows promise as an alternative to current LCD or conventional LED technology, potentially offering everything from modest lighting products to multifaceted graphical displays.
The heterostructures are made by joining different materials, usually in layers and with the materials joined directly at the atomic level. The heterostructures used in the new device essentially create an electron attractive force that the researchers have used to construct quantum wells to control the movement of electrons and make the device emit light.
Source: University of Manchester