TV's as Light and Thin as Paper ComingThe dream of a TV as light and thin as paper is the dream of TV executives everywhere. Now, thanks to printed electronics, they might be possible. Imagine being able to spool off a new TV from a roll, instead of having to arduously make each one.
That is the future being promised.
Previously the problems of large scale, complicated printed TVs were intractable. That might have changed, though, with a breakthrough by a team of Georgia Tech researchers. They have found a universal way to make conductors with a low work function easily without coating them in a glass cover.
Without delving too deep into how it all works, anything that emits light (like, say, a TV) needs conductors with low work functions. Unfortunately, these conductors are very reactive and degrade easily in air. This is why TV’s have a glass front. Without the glass, the image would quickly degrade away.
But the researchers managed to create stable low work function conductors stable by coating them in a thin layer of a special polymer they developed. The end result are conductors that don’t need thick glass to keep them intact, and a structure that is light and thin.
Said Bernard Kippelen, director of Georgia Tech's Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE):
"These polymers are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and compatible with existing roll-to-roll mass production techniques. Replacing the reactive metals with stable conductors, including conducting polymers, completely changes the requirements of how electronics are manufactured and protected. Their use can pave the way for lower cost and more flexible devices."
But this technology isn’t isolated to televisions. Anything that needs conductors can be made durable like this. Just as an example, Kippelen and his team made a plastic solar cell.