Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Electronic displays that could power a revolution in lighting

A thin film of plastic, which conducts electricity and produces solar power, could be the basis for a revolution in the way we light our homes and design clothes.

An international research project, part-funded by the European Union, has begun work on ways to mass produce orga...
Electronic displays that could power a revolution in lighting
A thin film of plastic, which conducts electricity and produces solar power, could be the basis for a revolution in the way we light our homes and design clothes.

An international research project, part-funded by the European Union, has begun work on ways to mass produce organic light emitting devices (OLEDs), which could have far reaching technological implications including more efficient lighting devices.

As these devices are thin and flexible, lighting and electronic display screens could be created on any material, so that clothes and packaging could display electronic information.

Some of the uses for these devices could vary from lighting that is much more efficient than current bulbs to clothes whose colour can be changed at the press of a button and beer cans that display the latest football results.

At present, OLEDs are used as displays in some mobile phones and MP3 players, but they are not reliable enough for larger screens such as TVs and computers as they stop working after a few months.

But now the three year Modelling Electroactive Conjugated Materials at the Multiscale (Modecom) project will research the science behind the polymer-based devices so as to make them worth producing for the mass market.

According to Dr Alison Walker, the coordinator of the project from the University of Bath, 'this is a long-term project. The experimentalists will make measurements to test the efficiency of the devices, but it's hard to get a clear picture of what is going on at present. This project is about making that picture clearer using computer models to develop the theory.

'Success in achieving the goals of cheap, efficient and long lasting devices is essential as we must do everything we can to reduce our energy costs,' she said.

OLEDs exploit the discovery that some polymers have the unusual property of either turning electricity into light, or light into electricity, depending on how the devices are made.

The polymer is made from chains of molecules, and is called organic because of its carbon content. Electrons and holes injected into the polymer film form bound states called excitons that break down under electrical current, emitting light as the process occurs.

The project will start by using a mathematical technique called 'Monte Carlo' analysis in which computer-generated random numbers are used to plot the paths of electrons, holes and excitons as they move across the film.

The results from this will then be used to calculate how the chemical structure and impurities affect the device's performance. The chemists involved in Modecom will then use this data to design the more efficient and durable materials.

The consortium consists of 13 groups from nine universities and two companies. Three groups are from the UK, six from the US, and one each from China, Belgium, Italy and Denmark.

The EU is funding the European and Chinese partners.

Source: University of Bath

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Record Number: 27565 / Last updated on: 2007-04-25
Category: Other
Provider: EC