The technology behind giant video billboards can now be made into flexible and even transparent displays.
These could be used to create brakelights that fit the curves of a car or medical diagnostics that envelop a patient like a blanket.
It has been made possible by a new technique, outlined in Science, for manufacturing so-called inorganic LEDs.
The new method allows these tiny light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to be attached to materials such as glass or rubber.
“[This] enables new kinds of ‘form factors’ that would allow you to put lighting sources on curved surfaces or in corners, places where you can’t put light sources nowadays,” Professor John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told BBC News.
Stamp of approval
There are two types of light-emitting diode (LED) technology, inorganic and organic.
The vast majority of consumer electronics use the inorganic version.
For a square centimetre of the material these are 400 times brighter than their organic cousins.
“If you look at the billboard displays that exist already, they’re inorganic LED based,” said Professor Rogers.
“You can see them on a bright sunny day; it would be impossible to generate that kind of brightness out of an organic LED.”
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