Sony’s just revealed an OLED screen that’s so astonishingly flexible it can be rolled tightly around a tube the size of a pencil. All of your sci-fi-inspired bendy screen next-gen computer dreams just came true.
The technology hinges on a new kind of organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) based on a new semiconducting material that has eight times the current modulation rate of existing OTFTs. This makes the display powerful, but there’s at least one more clever trick–instead of relying on driving electronics based on conventional solid chips in their familiar little black plastic packages, Sony’s built all the display driver tech out of OTFTs themselves, and integrated them into the actual panel the display itself is made on. This is crafted from a super-thin (20 micron-thick) substrate, making it flexible enough to be repeatedly rolled around a tube of diameter of just 4mm, as well as being stretched.
As you can see in the video below, the display is still in prototype mode, so it has failed pixels and stripes (because no effort’s been made to optimize the display manufacturing process or yield, as in a real production line). But it still manages a 432 by 240 pixel screen at 121 pixels per inch at a full 16 million color range.
Why should you care about this? Because the display is not only flexible but very light, compared to the heavier glass or thick plastic substrates found on existing OLED or even LCD screens. Since it’s also able to produce Sony’s new screen by a roll-printing process, it could also be relatively cheap. So as well as enabling roll-out, bendy, or foldable screens on novel devices that as yet exist only in sci-fi, it may end up replacing screens or even printed displays in places you may not expect.