The combination of conductive polymers on nanostructures was demonstrated as suited to creating electronic displays as thin as paper. The “paper” is similar to the Kindle tablet. It does not light up like a standard display, but rather reflects the external light that illuminates it; therefore, it works very well where there is bright light such as sunlight, in contrast to standard LED displays that work best in darkness. At the same time, it needs only a tenth of the energy that a Kindle tablet uses, which itself uses much less energy than a tablet LED display.

Double doping could improve the light-harvesting efficiency of flexible organic solar cells (left), the switching speed of electronic paper (center), and the power density of piezoelectric textiles (right). The solar cell was supplied by Epishine AB. (Photo by Johan Bodell/Chalmers University of Technology)

The technology depends on the polymers’ ability to control how light is absorbed and reflected. The polymers that cover the whole surface lead the electric signals throughout the full display and create images in high resolution.

The pixels use the same red, green, and blue (RGB) colors that together create all the colors in standard LED displays. Current work involves building pixels that cover an area as large as a display. One obstacle is that there is gold and silver in the display, which makes the manufacturing expensive.

The gold surface is 20 nanometers thick, so there is not much gold in it; however, there is a lot of gold wasted in manufacturing. Either the amount of waste must be reduced or an alternative method must be found to decrease the manufacturing cost.

Applications for the displays include well-lit places such as outside or in public places to display information. This could reduce the energy consumption and at the same time, replace signs and information screens that aren’t currently electronic today with more flexible ones.

For more information, contact Andreas Dahlin, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; +46 31 772 28 44.