Previously, we had talked about the potentiality of graphene as fuel-cells and even as bullet-proof material. Well, this time around, scientists have found a new manner in which this ‘pure carbon’ can be used – and, it entails flexible displays with LEDs. To that end, the researchers at University of Manchester (where graphene was first effectively isolated) have collaborated with University of Sheffield, and together they have contrived a graphene-based LED device that can lead the way to the future prototype for semi-transparent, flexible yet more efficient displays made of 2D materials.
Since the momentous isolation of graphene in 2004, the subsequent researching phases have yielded some encouraging results, including experimentation with effective 2D materials like boron nitride and molybdenum disulphide. In that regard, the scientists have been able to construct a 10-40 atoms thick 2D LED semiconductor (by using heterostructures) with a composite of metallic graphene, boron nitride (with hexagonal structure) and stacked monolayers of other semiconductors. Interestingly, the resultant LED was ‘crafted’ at an atomic level – which endows the contrivance with multi-functional attributes that go beyond nominal electronic displays. In essence, it has the capacity to emit light from across its whole surface, and thus can be used for ultra-thin light devices and multi-purpose graphical displays.
Regarding the creation of the LED device, this is what the team leader and Nobel Laureate Sir Kostya Novoselov (who was also one of the imminent scientists responsible for the original isolation of graphene), had to say –
By preparing the heterostructures on elastic and transparent substrates, we show that they can provide the basis for flexible and semi-transparent electronics. The range of functionalities for the demonstrated heterostructures is expected to grow further on increasing the number of available 2D crystals and improving their electronic quality.
As a matter of fact, the usage of heterostructures can account for customized functionality, with the device’s quantum wells (created by an electron attractive force) having the ability to control the movement of electrons, and thus emitting light. This nifty attribute can be potentially advantageous in the field of graphene based optoelectronics. Furthermore, the reliability and stability of the materials used in the LED device can pave the way for future usages in the mass-scaled commercial realm. According to one of the lead researchers Freddie Withers (who is also a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at The University of Manchester) –
As our new type of LED’s only consist of a few atomic layers of 2D materials they are flexible and transparent. We envisage a new generation of optoelectronic devices to stem from this work, from simple transparent lighting and lasers and to more complex applications.