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Surprising Science

Roll Up Your Computer Screen Like a Newspaper

How soon until you can roll up your computer screen like a newspaper? Two recent developments will make computer screens and e-reading devices flexible enough to bend. 

What’s the Latest Development?

We are closer to having flexible digital newspapers and computer screens you can bend, thanks to two recent advances. The consumer electronics company LG has begun mass producing a 6-inch e-paper screen that can be bent by up to 40 degrees. Devices based on the technology could be available as early as April. In a separate development, researchers at the U of Texas have created “the world’s most efficient organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) on flexible plastic,” meaning more flexible and more environmentally friendly computer screens in the years ahead. 

What’s the Big Idea?

After years of working to revamp old OLED designs, the Texas research team said it came upon its more efficient technology by accident. After cleaning sheets of indium tin oxide, a material used in flat-panel displays, they noticed brighter colors being produced with less energy. OTI Lumionics, a start-up recently launched by the researchers, will now attempt to commercialize the technology, initially by improving the efficiency of mobile phone displays. That would mean sharper screens, lighter batteries and shorter recharging times.

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