Materialien der Zukunft >> Future Materials

The first fully stretchable OLED

Engineers at the University of California, Los Angeles went a step towards video displays or phones that could swell or shrink. Previously, devices in the field of developing electronic sheets were only able to bend without stretching, or stretchable pieces with connected smaller, rigid LEDs. The biggest difficulties in creating stretchable electronics were to develop an electrode that maintains its conductivity when deformed. To achieve this property it is possible to use carbon nanotubes which are conductive and stretchable. However, coating the carbon nanotubes onto a plastic backing did not prove successful and researchers stopped trying.

The UCLA researchers devised a novel way of layering a carbon nanotube and polymer electrode onto a stretchable, light-emitting plastic. After coating the carbon nanotubes onto a glass backing, the team added a liquid polymer that becomes solid when exposed to ultraviolet light. Detaching the polymer-carbon-nanotube mix from the glass backing it becomes a smooth, stretchable and transparent electrode. Finally, the device can be stretched up to 45 percent of its original size while emitting a colored light.

This device uses a very simple approach and can be easily scaled up for real production, says Zhibin Yu, a researcher at University of California, Berkeley.
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Self-healing polymer fixes scratches with UV light

Researchers from Switzerland and the US have developed a material that can heal itself with the help of ultraviolet light. The metallo-supramolecular polymer is a solid material that becomes supple liquid and fills scratches if it is exposed to ultraviolet light for less than a minute.

The essential condition for this property is known as supramolecular assembly and means that the composed small molecules, which are assembled into longer, polymer-like chains, make it different from conventional polymers. Compared with those who consist of long molecules, the small molecules are agglutinated by using metal ions, to create the self-healing metallo-supramolecular polymer. Test showed that these small units rearrange themselves after scratching without leaving traces on skin, unlike the human body.

Finally, polymers with the ability to repair themselves could extend their lifetime and be used in many applications. 

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