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Aug 10th, 2011
Polymer light-emitting devices tout stretchability
Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science showcase an "intrinsically stretchable" polymer light-emitting device, in which every part of the device is stretchable.
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The "intrinsic stretchabilty" of these devices is said to be unlike today's conventional inorganic electronic devices that are brittle, and while they have a certain flexibility achieved using ultrathin layers of inorganic materials, these devices are either flexible, meaning they can be bent, or they are stretchable, containing a discrete LED chip interconnected with stretchable electrodes.

The researchers developed a simple process to fabricate the transparent devices using single-walled carbon nanotube polymer composite electrodes. The interpenetrating networks of nanotubes and the polymer matrix in the surface layer of the composites lead to low sheet resistance, high transparency, high compliance and low surface roughness. The metal-free devices can be linearly stretched up to 45 per cent and the composite electrodes can be reversibly stretched by up to 50 per cent with little change in sheet resistance.

Because the devices are fabricated by roll lamination of two composite electrodes that sandwich an emissive polymer layer, they uniquely combine mechanical robustness and the ability for large-strain deformation, due to the shape-memory property of the composite electrodes. This development will provide a new direction for the field of stretchable electronics.

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