This is an era of wearable technology and we are not far from the day when we actually will be having our own wearable devices facilitating us in different ways. This goes to the credit of the Korean researchers who developed light emitting diodes called OLEDs that you can wear just like your clothes. OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diodes and it is developed by placing a series of organic thin films between two conductors to which, when current is supplied, it emits a bright light. OLEDs are considered to be more efficient than the LCDs as they do not require a backlight and are thinner. They consist the qualities of flexibility and transparency which again, make them far better than LCDs. Moreover, OLEDs can also be rolled.
This project is a joint venture of KAIST and Kolon Glotech who announced on November 22 that the OLED technology they developed can realize on a textile substrate. OLEDs are self-luminous displays and are flexible, foldable, and wearable that consist of thin boards made of plastic material which can be torn easily due to which they have a poor durability. As a result, they tried to develop OLEDs using micrometer fibers. These fibers are thick but, as they get woven with weft yarns, their flexibility and durability are better. But again, putting OLEDs on a fabric becomes difficult due to its rough surface and large volume expansion because of temperature rise. Due to this, OLED devices face the drawback of undergoing a thermal deposition process. To bring a solution to this problem, the researchers put the OLED on flat fabric that resembled a glass board having the flexible nature of the fabrics at the same time.
Thus, the team developed OLED through a vacuum thermal deposition process on a fabric with multi-layer thin film encapsulation technology to prevent oxygen and moisture from penetrating into OLEDs. This increased the life of the fabric OLED to 1000 hours and idle life of more than 3500 hours.
This is indeed a big step towards developing and using the wearable technology though it will be further refined until we start using the wearable displays woven into our clothes.