College of Science and Engineering, January 7, 2021
In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities used a customized printer to fully 3D print a flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display. The discovery could result in low-cost OLED displays in the future that could be widely produced using 3D printers by anyone at home, instead of by technicians in expensive microfabrication facilities.
The research is published in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The OLED display technology is based on the conversion of electricity into light using an organic material layer. OLEDs function as high quality digital displays, which can be made flexible and used in both large-scale devices such as television screens and monitors as well as handheld electronics such as smartphones. OLED displays have gained popularity because they are lightweight, power-efficient, thin and flexible, and offer a wide viewing angle and high contrast ratio.
“OLED displays are usually produced in big, expensive, ultra-clean fabrication facilities,” said MnDrive researcher Michael McAlpine, a University of Minnesota Kuhrmeyer Family Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the senior author of the study. “We wanted to see if we could basically condense all of that down and print an OLED display on our table-top 3D printer, which was custom built and costs about the same as a Tesla Model S.”