Flexible graphene-based LED clears the way for flexible displays

Researchers from the University of Manchester and University of 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. The incredibly thin display was 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, with Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov first isolating the material of single-atom thickness at the University via mechanical exfoliation (using adhesive tape) back in 2004. Since then, research has also branched out into other promising 2D material structures, including boron nitiride and molybdenum disulphide.

Flexible graphene-based LED clears the way for flexible displays

The culmination of these areas of experimentation is the new 2D LED semiconductor built by a team led by Novoselov 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.

“By preparing the heterostructures on elastic and transparent substrates, we show that they can provide the basis for flexible and semi-transparent electronics,” said Novoselov.

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