A team of University of Tokyo researchers led by professor Takao Someya has engineered a stretchable display by linking organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic transistors with a printable elastic conductor. "Printing is cheap, and it allows you to cover large-area substrate," says the University of Cambridge's Stephanie Lacour. The researchers previously used their conductor, composed of a blend of carbon nanotubes and rubber, to make a stretchable electronic circuit.
The conductor is fabricated by combining the nanotubes with an ionic liquid and a liquid polymer to produce a nanotube-rubber paste. A high-pressure jet then spreads the nanotubes in the rubber. The jet can thin the nanotube bundles without shortening them and disperse the bundles uniformly in the polymer. "The longer and finer bundles of nanotubes can form well-developed conducting networks in rubbers, thus significantly improved conductivity and stretchability," Someya says. Extremely thin lines of the conductor are deposited on a rubber substrate with a printing mask. The lines function as a wire grid to connect organic transistors and OLEDs into a display that can stretch by up to 50 percent of its original shape. The display can perform without impedance when spread over a curved surface and can be folded in half or crumpled up without sustaining damage. Stretchable electronics offer an advantage over their rollup counterparts in that they can be wrapped around complex three-dimensional objects.
From Technology Review
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