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The researchers used three different chemicals that fluoresced blue, green, and yellow. But Stanislav Baluschev, a researcher at Max Planck and coauthor of the New Journal of Physics paper, says that one next step will be finding a chemical that gives off a saturated red light, in order to produce a full palette of colors when combined with the others. Another issue is how to use the three colors to create full-color displays. So far, the researchers have created separate screens, each containing a different chemical, resulting in displays that give off only monochromatic images. The team is working to create multilayer and pixilated screens using all three colors.

But an important advantage of the process is that the screens are extremely simple to make. The chemical layer can be painted or screen-printed onto a layer of plastic, then sealed with another layer. The technology might be most practical for projected displays, such as advertisements or public information screens. And since the screens are transparent when not in use, they could perhaps be used for heads-up displays on car windshields, Baluschev says.

But using the screens on portable electronic devices would present complications since the scanning laser adds bulk and needs to be positioned far enough away from the screen that it can reach all parts evenly. Baluschev says that one way around the problem might be to use very fine fiber-optic cables to direct the light to each pixel on the screen. Nicholas Sheridon, a physicist who worked on flexible displays at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, says that the new technology is probably too bulky and power intensive to be useful in consumer electronics. But he agrees that the technology might be useful in projected displays, although it isn’t yet clear how it would compare with existing projection technologies.

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Credit: Institute of Physics, Sony, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Tagged: Computing, flexible electronics, LED, flexible displays, e-paper

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