Flexible see-through LED displays only a few atoms thick have been created by Manchester University researchers taking advantage of properties of graphene

Atom-thick LED displays pave way for see-through electronics

Manchester University researchers have created LED displays only a few atoms thick taking advantage of properties of graphene.

The two-dimensional semi-transparent displays were produced in the lab of Nobel Prize winner and graphene inventor Konstantin Novoselov, paving the way for next-generation flexible electronics

Described in the latest issue of the Nature Materials journal, the devices were constructed through a combination of several 2D crystals capable of emitting light from across the surface.

"The novel LED structures are robust and show no significant change in performance over many weeks of measurements,” said Professor Alexander Tartakovskii from the University of Sheffield, who cooperated on the project.

“Despite the early days in the raw materials manufacture, the quantum efficiency (photons emitted per electron injected) is already comparable to organic LEDs.”

Stacking the 2D crystals into layers, the team has built innovative heterostructures with functionality controlled through the so called quantum wells guiding the movement of electrons.

“By preparing the heterostructures on elastic and transparent substrates, we show that they can provide the basis for flexible and semi-transparent electronics,” said Sir Konstantin Novoselov.

“The range of functionalities for the demonstrated heterostructures is expected to grow further on increasing the number of available 2D crystals and improving their electronic quality.”

One-atom thick graphene, dubbed the wonder material for its out-of-this-world mechanical and electronic properties, was first isolated and explored in 2004 at the University of Manchester.

The material, effectively a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, is hailed for its potential to revolutionise electronics, enabling manufacture of extremely resilient though flexible and thin devices.

Konstantin Novoselov and his colleague Andre Gheim were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery in 2010.

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