Plasma televisions are already on the outs with consumers due to their energy-sucking tendencies, meanwhile LCD screens have closed the gap on picture quality and are more energy efficient. But as many TV buffs know, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens are the future–if scientists can figure out how to produce them cheaply enough. Researchers at Japan’s RIKEN center think they’ve already figured it out, and claim that they can produce OLEDs as cheaply as publishing a newspaper.
The scientists used what they call smooth, electrospray-deposited polymer films to build the cheap OLEDs. In the past, OLED screens have been built with spin-coated films. The new polymer films, however, minimize wastage of the polymer solution used to create images on the screen. The end result: cheap, efficient OLEDs.
OLEDs have a number of advantages over LED screens–they don’t require a backlight, which means that they use much less power and operate longer on battery charges. The lack of backlight also means that OLED displays can be thinner than LCDs. And since OLED pixels directly emit light, they can display a greater array of color, brightness, viewing angle, and contrast than LCD screens. All of which makes the RIKEN discovery a big deal for the future of television, cell phones, computers and pretty much every other application that requires a screen–including the future of newspapers.