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Breakthrough, Ultrathin LEDs

A new LED display process developed by an international team of researchers offers properties like see-through construction and mechanical flexibility - which would be impossible to achieve with existing technologies.

Applications for the arrays, which can be printed onto flat or flexible substrates ranging from glass to plastic and rubber, include general illumination, high-resolution home theater displays, wearable health monitors, and biomedical imaging devices.

Researchers from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore, and Tsinghua University in Beijing collaborated on the technology.

“Our goal is to marry some of the advantages of inorganic LED technology with the scalability, ease of processing, and resolution of organic LEDs,” said John Rogers, the Flory-Founder Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois.

Compared to organic LEDs, inorganic LEDs are brighter, more robust, and longer-lived. However, organic LEDs are also attractive because they can be formed on flexible substrates in dense, interconnected arrays. The new technology combines features of both.