In the future, powering up your laptop may require that you unroll it first.
Engineers at the University of Toronto are the first Canadian team to construct flexible organic light emitting devices (FOLEDs), technology that could lay the groundwork for future generations of bendable television, computer and cellphone screens. "It opens up a whole new range of possibilities for the future," says Zheng-Hong Lu, a professor in U of T's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "Imagine a room with electronic wallpaper programmed to display a series of Van Gogh paintings, or a reusable electronic newspaper that could download and display the day's news and be rolled up after use."
Today's flat panel displays are made on heavy, inflexible glass that can break during transportation and installation. Lu, working with post-doctoral fellow Sijin Han and engineering science student Brian Fung, developed FOLEDs made on a variety of lightweight, flexible materials ranging from transparent plastic films to reflective metal foils that can bend or roll into any shape.
FOLED technology could be manufactured using a low-cost, high-efficiency mass production method, Lu says. The team, which is already commercializing some related technology, hopes a marketable device could be created within two to three years.
Their research was funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the Premier's Research Excellence Awards, Materials and Manufacturing Ontario, the Emerging Materials Network and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.
To view a video of the flexible substrate, see: http://www.nit.utoronto.ca/news/03_foled.avi.
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