Engineers at Purdue, Northwestern University, and the University of Southern California have created an active-matrix display using a new class of thin, transparent transistors and circuits. The transistors incorporate nanowires, tiny cylindrical structures assembled on glass or films of flexible plastic that are as thin as 20 nanometers - a thousand times thinner than a human hair.
The scientists used the nanowires to create a transparent active-matrix display containing organic light emitting diodes, also known as OLEDS. OLED technology emits light directly, eliminating the need to backlight the screen and making it possible to create vivid displays that are thin and flexible. Up to now, OLEDs have been difficult and expensive to produce for high-resolution displays using conventional CMOS transistors. The nanowire thin-film transistors could be produced less expensively under low temperatures than CMOS transistors, easing their integration into flexible plastic substrates.
"This is a step toward demonstrating the practical potential of nanowire transistors in displays and for other applications," said David Janes, a researcher at Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center and a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The scientists believe the technology can be scaled to produce flexible displays for mobile phones and computers, and possibly even heads-up displays for vehicle GPS systems.