A new type of LED can be rolled up, squashed and stretched, but still stay lit. The research team that developed the LEDs say it can be used for bumper mounted brake lights or even roll-up computer displays.
Organic LEDs are usually easier to produce and much smaller, so they are used for things like cell phone screens and outdoor displays. Inorganic LEDs are larger, so they are used in things like traffic lights and flashlights. Inorganic LEDs, however, are more energy efficient and brighter than their organic counterparts. And this discovery has made these inorganic LEDs a lot more flexible, too.
The LEDs are built on top of a reusable wafer layer, set in what the team calls a "sacrificial layer." The sacrificial layer is dissolved, and the LEDs can be mounted on a wide variety of substrates. The result is a flexible sheet of tiny energy-efficient LEDs.
The new inorganic LEDs are small enough to promise higher resolution displays and varied applications. They are 20 microns across and 2 microns tall, making them smaller than a tiny cross-section of a human hair. With a little more development, these LEDs could become a thin, bendy, roll-up computer display.
Flexible, Stretchable LEDs Promise Better Displays [Discovery News]
(Image: D. Stevenson and C. Conway/ University of Illinois)