Move Over OLEDs: Scientists Create Cheap, Fully Recyclable Lighting Material


Photo via Gizmag

Swedish and American researchers have just developed a fully recyclable lighting component with what Science Daily is terms a "new super material": graphene. Graphene is both inexpensive to produce and is 100% recyclable, and could be used to create glowing wallpaper made out of plastic--much like )LEDs could. But graphene appears to improve on OLEDs in some very big ways . . . As you know, we've been big fans of the very efficient, long-lasting Light Emitting Diodes and Organic LED technology. But as Science Daily notes, there are still problems:

Today's OLEDs have two drawbacks -- they are relatively expensive to produce, and the transparent electrode consists of the metal alloy indium tin oxide. The latter presents a problem because indium is both rare and expensive and moreover is complicated to recycle.


A graphene lattice

Researchers believe they've found a solution by creating an organic light-emitting electrochemical cell (LEC) with the transparent electrode made of the "carbon material graphene." Graphene is used instead of conventional metal electrodes--and since everything in an LEC, including the graphene, can be created from liquid solutions, they will be able to be produced through a printing process. This makes them much more efficient--and much less expensive--to create en masse than OLEDs. Researchers involved in the project say that graphene paves the way for cheap production of plastic-based lighting, perhaps for the first time.

So what does this graphene consist of? SD has the skinny:

Graphene consists of a single layer of carbon atoms and has many attractive properties as an electronic material. It has high conductivity, is virtually transparent, and can moreover be produced as a solution in the form of graphene oxide.
Of course, we'll have to wait until more tests are done to get a fuller idea of its lifecycle and range of applications, but this seems like pretty intriguing news indeed.

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