Researchers Make OLED Electrodes Made from Graphene for the First Time

Monday, February 6, 2017 - 22:26

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute, the Spanish Graphenea S.A., and the British Aixtron Ltd., have succeeded in manufacturing organic light-emitting diode electrodes from graphene for the first time.

The team, originally from the Fraunhofer Institute for organic electronics, electron beam and plasma technology FEP in Dresden was working on an EU-funded project known as Gladiator which focuses on production, characterization and integration of graphene layers, the Engineer reports.

According to New Atlas, graphene, which is flexible, clear, and extremely robust, is also an exceptional conductor of both heat and electrical current, all of which makes it a clear front-runner for the next generation of electronic devices.

OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) are becoming increasingly common in display screens, both large-scale for televisions and small-scale for telephones and other handheld devices; they have superior color-generating properties compared to inorganic LEDs and are particularly useful in touchscreens.

The electrodes attached to the OLED (organic light-emitting display) have an area of around 2 cm by 1 cm (1/2 in by 1/4 in), and were created using a process of chemical vapor deposition (CVD), where methane and hydrogen are pumped into a vacuum chamber where a copper plate has been heated to 800° C (1,472° F).

Once the reaction is complete, the team fixes a carrier polymer to the graphene layer and cools the plate down, before chemically etching the copper layer away and leaving the graphene attached to the carrier polymer. This can leave impurities in the graphene; the next phase of the project will focus on minimizing this to make the graphene is pure as possible. “This was a real breakthrough in research and integration of extremely demanding materials,” says project leader Beatrice Beyer.

Though this is not the first flexible display to use graphene in its construction, it is the first to incorporate OLED technology, which is a large step toward full-color screens and fast response times. "The first products could already be launched in two to three years," said Dr. Beatrice Beyer, project leader at the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP.

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