displays: they can have substrates that are flexible and more impact-resistant than glass or rigid plastic; they have higher brightness than LEDs; they do not require backlighting, as LCDs do, which is a significant power drain that limits battery life; they offer ease of deposition on very large substrates; and they have a larger field of view and a wider operating temperature range than LCDs. However, present OLEDs also have significant disadvantages, including shorter lifetimes23,24 and lower efficiency.
Future flexible displays could be extremely thin, light, and inexpensive. Moreover, flexible displays could enable the display market to expand to new applications, including e-paper and large signage.
In recent years, engineers worldwide have been developing the organic materials and manufacturing processes to make flexible displays a reality. Such new materials could be OLEDs, liquid crystals, and electrophoretic particles. Moreover, plastic substrates and printable semiconductors are now available to help to create flexible back planes. Other key technologies are needed for future flexible LCDs or OLEDs, such as the use of stable and heat-resistant organic materials and low-temperature printing.
In the next decade, flexible substrates (such as thin-film polymers) could have a large impact, enabling the possibility of printing reports on e-paper25,26 that is both thin and reusable. Cell phones could have large displays that could be unfurled. Displays might even be placed on non-flat clothing surfaces. Commercial laboratories are working on flexible displays27 that can be 15-inch displays and larger.
23 Wellmann, P., M. Hofmann, O. Zeika, A. Werner, J. Birnstock, R. Meerheim, G. He, K. Walzer, M. Pfeiffer, and K. Leo. 2005. High-efficiency p-i-n organic light-emitting diodes with long lifetime. Journal of the Society for Information Display 13(5):393-397.
24 Luiz, Pereira. 2010. Organic Light Emitting Diodes: The Use of Rare Earth and Transition Metals. Singapore: Pan Stanford.
25 Burns, S.E., K. Reynolds, W. Reeves, M. Banach, T. Brown, K. Chalmers, N. Cousins, M. Etchells, C. Hayton, K. Jacobs, A. Menon, S. Siddique, P. Too, C. Ramsdale, J. Watts, P. Cain, T. Von Werne, J. Mills, C. Curling, H. Sirringhaus, K. Amundson, and M.D. McCreary. 2005. A scalable manufacturing process for flexible active-matrix e-paper displays. Journal of the Society for Information Display 13(7):583-586.
26 Blankenbach K., L-C Chien, S.-D. Lee, and M.H. Wu. 2011. “Advances in Display Technologies, e-papers and Flexible Displays.” Proceedings of SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering. January 26-27. San Francisco, Calif. Bellingham, Wash.: SPIE.
27 Choi, M.-C., Y. Kim, and C.-S. Ha. 2008. Polymers for flexible displays: From material selection to device applications. Progress in Polymer Science 33(6):581-630.