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Flexible lighted screen

Plastic films with OLED technology can be used in advertising signs and product packaging

JUHA SARKKINEN/VTTPlastic films with OLED technology can be used in advertising signs and product packagingJUHA SARKKINEN/VTT

A new method to produce plastic films containing organic light emitting diodes (OLED) has been developed by the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland.  This will broaden the applicability of OLED technology, which is currently used in cell phone screens and, most recently, in television screens.  The researchers, headed by Raimo Korhonen, designed a way to print flexible, light-emitting plastic films using a process similar to the one used for making engraved plates or for screen printing.  The new method makes it possible to produce lighted screens in large sizes, to be used for lighting, advertising, or any kind of information display.  They can also be installed on transparent surfaces like windows and product packaging.  In the past, OLED technology was only applied to glass surfaces, through traditional methods used in microelectronics.  This new option permits the installation of OLEDs on flexible plastics, glass, and steel.  The film is 0.2 millimeter thick, enough to accommodate all the necessary electrodes and light-emitting polymers.  The only problem is that the film is extremely sensitive to oxygen and humidity, limiting its light-emitting lifespan to a maximum of one year.  But its useful life is expected to increase as research advances towards improved protections for this new type of screen.