Swedish Scientists Print LEDs Onto Paper for Flat, Flexible Lighting

For as long as light bulbs have been around, they sure haven’t changed much from their original bulbous shape: Even spiral-shaped CFLs echo the outline of the traditional incandescent bulb. A group of Swedish scientists from the Physical Electronics and Nanotechnology group at Linköping University want to change all of that with the first ever LED array printed on a sheet of paper.

In a paper published by the Rapid Research Letters, the scientists describe how exactly how they managed to grow a set of white LEDs directly onto a sheet of paper. The research has produced actual sheets of light that could be used in home lighting, clothing, and of course consumer electronics.

[Credit: Linköping University]

To accomplish this feat, the scientists applied nanothreads of zinc oxide to a thin layer of polydiethylflourene (try saying that ten times fast), along with a conducting polymer. The scientists say that their white LEDs can be applied to any sheet of paper or plastic that’s been treated with a water-sealing layer of resin called cyclotene. What’s more is that the powder-based process could be mass-produced using a printing press.

Flat, flexible lighting could be used in a multitude of applications including actual uniform soft-boxes for photography, flexible and thinner screens, less terrible LED advertisements at New York’s Times Square, and a real Tron light suit.

The group of scientists is currently trying to secure a patent for the printing process. The researchers are also further exploring the potential of zinc oxide by combining it with graphene, copper oxide, and other materials.

[Linköping University and Rapid Research Letters via Science Daily / Top Image: Yinghai on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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