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Paper could enable flexible displays

Today’s flexible electronic prototypes are generally built using polymer thin films, but the cost of these films becomes a factor when they are scaled up. To address this issue, a team from the South China University of Technology and Monash University in Australia has explored the use of paper.

While paper is renewable, biodegradable and a fraction of the cost of polymer thin films, it isn’t conductive. However, using a conventional roller process that is said to scale, the researchers coated paper with soft ionic gels to make it conductive. An emissive film was sandwiched between two layers of the ionic gel paper and a voltage applied, after which the device glowed blue.

The prototype showed electrical durability, withstanding more than 5000 cycles of bending and unbending with negligible changes in performance and lasting for more than two months.

The researchers say the conductive paper costs about $1.30/m2 and could be fabricated at a rate of 30m/min.

Graham Pitcher

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