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Super-Flexible Liquid Crystal Device For Bendable and Rollable Displays

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A flexible wrist-worn display.

Tohoku University researchers have developed a super-flexible liquid crystal device.

Credit: Tohoku University

Researchers from Japan's Tohoku University say they have developed a super-flexible liquid crystal (LC) device, in which two ultra-thin plastic substrates are firmly bonded by polymer wall spacers.

The researchers say the new organic materials should help make electronic displays and devices more flexible, increasing their portability and versatility.

The team overcame challenges associated with previous efforts to create a flexible display using an organic light-emitting diode by making existing LC displays flexible with plastic substrates instead of with conventional thick glass substrates; the strategy worked because LC materials do not deteriorate even with the poor gas barrier of flexible substrates.

Flexible LC displays have several advantages, such as established production methods for large-area displays. In addition, the material itself is inexpensive, can be mass-produced, and shows little quality degradation over time.

The researchers developed the super-flexible LC device by bonding two ultra-thin transparent polyimide substrates together, using robust polymer wall spacers. They also demonstrated that device uniformity is kept without breaking spacers even after a roll-up test to a curvature radius of 3 millimeters for rollable and foldable applications.

The researchers next want to form image pixels and soften the peripheral components of polarizing films, as well as to develop a thin light-guide sheet for backlighting.

From Tohoku University
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