Ultrathin, highly flexible and stretchable PLEDs

Article metrics

Abstract

We demonstrate ultrathin (2 µm thick) red and orange polymer light-emitting diodes with unprecedented mechanical properties in terms of their flexibility and ability to be stretched. The devices have a luminance greater than 100 cd m–2, sufficient for a variety of optoelectronic applications including indoor displays. They can be operated as free-standing ultrathin films, allowing for crumpling during device operation. Furthermore, they may be applied to almost any surface whether rigid or elastomeric, and can withstand the associated mechanical deformation. They are shown to be extremely flexible, with radii of curvature under 10 µm, and stretch-compatible to 100% tensile strain. Such ultrathin light-emitting foils constitute an important step towards integration with malleable materials like textiles and artificial skin.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Electrical and optical characterization of ultrathin PLEDs.
Figure 2: Demonstrations of extreme deformation attainable with ultrathin PLEDs.
Figure 3: Wrinkling and folding of PLED films during compression.

References

  1. 1

    Rogers, J. A., Someya, T. & Huang, Y. Materials and mechanics for stretchable electronics. Science 327, 1603–1607 (2010).

  2. 2

    Kim, D. H. et al. Dissolvable films of silk fibroin for ultrathin conformal bio-integrated electronics. Nature Mater. 9, 1–7 (2010).

  3. 3

    Kim, D. H. et al. Ultrathin silicon circuits with strain-isolation layers and mesh layouts for high-performance electronics on fabric, vinyl, leather, and paper. Adv. Mater. 21, 3703–3707 (2009).

  4. 4

    Timko, B. P. et al. Electrical recording from hearts with flexible nanowire device arrays. Nano Lett. 9, 914–918 (2009).

  5. 5

    Jung, I., Shin, G., Malyarchuk, V., Ha, J. S. & Rogers, J. A. Paraboloid electronic eye cameras using deformable arrays of photodetectors in hexagonal mesh layouts. Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 021110 (2010).

  6. 6

    Jung, I. et al. Dynamically tunable hemispherical electronic eye camera system with adjustable zoom capability. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 1788–1793 (2011).

  7. 7

    Sekitani, T. & Someya, T. Stretchable, large-area organic electronics. Adv. Mater. 22, 2228–2246 (2010).

  8. 8

    Cherenack, K., van Os, K. & van Pieterson, L. Smart photonic textiles begin to weave their magic. Laser Focus World 63–66 (April 2012).

  9. 9

    Sekitani, T. et al. Stretchable active-matrix organic light-emitting diode display using printable elastic conductors. Nature Mater. 8, 494–499 (2009).

  10. 10

    Gray, D. S., Tien, J. & Chen, C. S. High-conductivity elastomeric electronics. Adv. Mater. 16, 393–397 (2004).

  11. 11

    Kim, K. S. et al. Large-scale pattern growth of graphene films for stretchable transparent electrodes. Nature 457, 706–710 (2008).

  12. 12

    Sekitani, T. et al. A rubberlike stretchable active matrix using elastic conductors. Science 321, 1468–1472 (2008).

  13. 13

    Lacour, S. P., Wagner, S., Huang, Z. & Suo, Z. Stretchable gold conductors on elastomeric substrates. Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 2404–2406 (2003).

  14. 14

    Khang, D. Y., Jiang, H., Huang, Y. & Rogers, J. A. A stretchable form of single-crystal silicon for high-performance electronics on rubber substrates. Science 331, 208–212 (2006).

  15. 15

    Kim, D. H. et al. Stretchable and foldable silicon integrated circuits. Science 320, 507–511 (2008).

  16. 16

    Wagner, S. & Bauer, S. Materials for stretchable electronics. MRS Bull. 37, 207–213 (2012).

  17. 17

    Egbe, D. A. M. et al. Improvement in carrier mobility and photovoltaic performance through random distribution of segments of linear and branched side chains. Mater. Chem. 20, 9726–9734 (2010).

  18. 18

    Camaioni, N. et al. Electron and hole transport in an anthracene-based conjugated polymer. Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 053302 (2012).

  19. 19

    Usluer, Ö. et al. Charge carrier mobility, photovoltaic and electroluminescent properties of anthracene-based conjugated polymers bearing randomly distributed side chains. J. Polym. Sci. Polym. Chem. 50, 3425–3436 (2012).

  20. 20

    Sierros, K. A., Morris, N. J., Ramji, K. & Cairns, D. R. Stress-corrosion cracking of indium tin oxide coated polyethylene terephthalate for flexible optoelectronic devices. Thin Solid Films 517, 2590–2595 (2009).

  21. 21

    Fortunato, E., Ginley, D., Hosono, H. & Paine, D. C. Transparent conducting oxides for photovoltaics. MRS Bull. 32, 242–247 (2007).

  22. 22

    Hekmatshoar, B. et al. Reliability of active-matrix organic light-emitting-diode arrays with amorphous silicon thin-film transistor backplanes on clear plastic. IEEE Electron. Device Lett. 29, 63–66 (2008).

  23. 23

    Steudel, S. et al. Design and realization of a flexible QQVGA AMOLED display with organic TFTs. Org. Electron. 13, 1729–1735 (2012).

  24. 24

    Rowell, M. W. et al. Organic solar cells with carbon nanotube network electrodes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 88, 233506 (2006).

  25. 25

    Yu, Z., Niu, X., Liu, Z. & Pei, Q. Intrinsically stretchable polymer light-emitting devices using carbon nanotube–polymer composite electrodes. Adv. Mater. 33, 3989–3994 (2011).

  26. 26

    Kaltenbrunner, M. et al. Ultrathin and lightweight organic solar cells with high flexibility. Nat. Commun. 3, 770 (2012).

  27. 27

    Lee, J. et al. Stretchable GaAs photovoltaics with designs that enable high areal coverage. Adv. Mater. 23, 986–991 (2011).

  28. 28

    Lipomi, D. J., Tee, B. C. K., Vosgueritchian, M. & Bao, Z. Stretchable organic solar cells. Adv. Mater. 23, 1771–1775 (2011).

  29. 29

    Wang, X., Hu, H., Shen, Y., Zhou, X. & Zheng, Z. Stretchable conductors with ultrahigh tensile strain and stable metallic conductance enabled by prestrained polyelectrolyte nanoplatforms. Adv. Mater. 23, 3090–3094 (2011).

  30. 30

    Graz, I. M., Cotton, D. P. J. & Lacour, S. P. Extended cyclic uniaxial loading of stretchable gold thin-films on elastomeric substrates. Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 071902 (2009).

  31. 31

    Lipomi, D. J. & Bao, Z. Stretchable, elastic materials and devices for solar energy conversion. Energy Environ. Sci. 4, 3314–3328 (2011).

  32. 32

    Kim, T. I. et al. High-efficiency, microscale GaN light-emitting diodes and their thermal properties on unusual substrates. Small 8, 1643–1649 (2012).

  33. 33

    Kim, T. I., Kim, R. H. & Rogers, J. A. Microscale inorganic light-emitting diodes on flexible and stretchable substrates. IEEE Photon. J. 4, 607–612 (2012).

  34. 34

    Kim, H. et al. Unusual strategies for using indium gallium nitride grown on silicon (111) for solid-state lighting. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 10072–10077 (2011).

  35. 35

    Kim, R. H. et al. Materials and designs for wirelessly powered implantable light-emitting systems. Small 8, 2812–2818 (2012).

  36. 36

    Hu, X. et al. Stretchable inorganic semiconductor electronic systems. Adv. Mater. 23, 2933–2936 (2011).

  37. 37

    Kim, P., Abkarian, M. & Stone, H. A. Hierarchical folding of elastic membranes under biaxial compressive stress. Nature Mater. 10, 952–957 (2011).

  38. 38

    Kim, J. B. et al. Wrinkles and deep folds as photonic structures in photovoltaics. Nature Photon. 6, 327–332 (2012).

  39. 39

    Zang, J., Zhao, X., Cao, Y. & Hutchinson, J. W. Localized ridge wrinkling of stiff films on compliant substrates. J. Mech. Phys. Solids 60, 1265–1279 (2012).

  40. 40

    Ebata, Y., Croll, A. B. & Crosby, A. J. Wrinkling and strain localizations in polymer thin films. Soft Matter 8, 9086–9091 (2012).

  41. 41

    Gregg, B. A. & van de Lagemaat, J. Solar cells: folding photons. Nature Photon. 6, 278–280 (2012).

  42. 42

    Heeger, A. J., Sariciftci, N. S. & Namdas, E. B. Semiconducting and Metallic Polymers 167–168 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Pütz GmbH & Co. Folien KG for the ultrathin substrates. This work was partially funded by the ERC Advanced Investigators Grant ‘SoftMap’ and the JST–ERATO Someya Bio-Harmonized Electronics grant. The authors are grateful to the Austrian FWF for financial support through the Wittgenstein Award. N.S.S. and M.S.W. acknowledge financial support from the J-RISE (JST) Yamagata University–Johannes Kepler University collaboration. D.A.M.E. and C.U. acknowledge the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for financial support in the framework of SPP 1355. S.A. acknowledges support from the African Network for Solar Energy (ANSOLE) for enabling her stay at LIOS under the framework of the ANEX-Program. The authors thank J. Reeder, P. Stadler and P. Denk for their contributions.

Author information

D.A.M.E. and C.U. conceived and synthesized the light-emitting polymer. M.S.W., M.K., E.D.G., K.G. and S.A. fabricated and characterized devices. G.K., K.G. and I.G. processed ultrathin substrates and assisted with device demonstrations. M.S.W., M.K. and S.B. wrote the manuscript and prepared figures, with contributions from all authors. M.C.M. and Z.M. performed the quantitative mechanical analysis. Ta.S., Ts.S., M.C.S., S.B. and N.S.S. supervised the project and advised on device optimization.

Correspondence to Matthew S. White.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary information (PDF 1639 kb)

Supplementary Movie

Supplementary Movie 1 (MOV 5677 kb)

Supplementary Movie

Supplementary Movie 2 (MOV 2264 kb)

Supplementary Movie

Supplementary Movie 3 (MOV 4526 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

White, M., Kaltenbrunner, M., Głowacki, E. et al. Ultrathin, highly flexible and stretchable PLEDs. Nature Photon 7, 811–816 (2013) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2013.188

Download citation

Further reading