New Dip-Coating Technique Helps Create Fiber-Like Polymer LEDs

A team of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Research and Technology’s School of Electrical Engineering have developed a variety of light emitting diodes (LEDs) with fiber-like properties that extend the scope of applications of wearable displays. The findings of this latest research study were published in the Advanced Electronic Materials journal. According to Kwon Seon-Il, the lead author of the study, the commercialization of this technology could make the production of wearable displays as easy as that of clothes. 

The conventional method of manufacturing wearable displays entailed the manufacture of hard substrates that were then attached to textile surfaces. The key drawback of this technique was that the rigidity of wearable displays made their use in several applications unfeasible. 

The team of scientists that developed the fiber-like LEDs decided to leave behind the traditional approach of creating LED displays on a rigid, plane surface. In place of the conventional approach, the scientists focused on creating wearable LED displays with fiber-like attributes. 

This technology is known as the dip-coating process, named thus because it entails bathing a 3D rod in a superyellow solution. The fiber rod is used as a replacement to conventional fabric fiber. In order to build the textile, regular organic materials are deposited as layers on the fiber’s thread. 

The advantage of the dip coating process is that it enables organic materials to be deposited in layers on the fibers with a cylindrical, 3D structure. It was hitherto difficult to achieve this using the heat-coating process. The dip-coating process also lends better flexibility with regard to the thickness of the coating.

The new process can help mass production of fiber-based wearable LED displays, which can be used in a myriad of industrial and commercial applications. For instance, with the use of roll-to-roll technology processing technology, electronic devices can be created on a roll of metal foil or even flexible plastic. From the standpoint of costs, this technology is not prohibitively expensive.

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