Using silver nanowires and a tiny OLED display encased in rubbery plastic, a team of researchers at UCLA have created one of the most flexible displays to-date. The display is capable of being stretched to twice its original size and can be folded a full 180 degrees without snapping. Moreover, after 1,000 test folds, twists and bends, the display remains fully functional.
The UCLA team, headed by principal investigator Qibing Pei developed the prototype display in an effort to move flexible electronics closer to reality, and it looks like they've succeeded wonderfully. The silver nanowires are practically invisible to the naked eye and their rubbery housing keeps them from being exposed to the air, which would eat away at their delicate structures very rapidly.
With the success of their test display, Pei and his team are free to move into larger, more complex applications. In the words of Pei himself,
"Along with the development of stretchable thin-film transistors, we believe that fully stretchable interactive OLED displays that are as thin as wallpaper will be achieved in the near future. And this will give creative electronics designers new dimensions to exploit."
Those wallpaper-thin stretchy displays could lead to sensitive, fleshy robotic skins, squishy smartwatches and clothing. Check out the video below to see the silver nanowire OLED display bending and folding for yourself.