A study published in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters explains that there has been a large amount of interest recently in flexible and/or extendable displays. Benefits of such flexible displays would be providing large screens with the ability to easily become small and portable. A common roadblock in attempts to fabricate these displays has been the challenge of preventing creases from appearing after folding or rolling.
Researchers from the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in South Korea wrote in their report that they were able to solve this problem. They describe how they have created a seamless foldable active matrix organic-light-emitting-diode (AMOLED) display which retains no visible crease even after having been folded 100,000 times. Consisting of two AMOLED panels, hyperelastic silicone rubber, a protective glass cover, and a module case, the display can be folded to within 1mm.
Folding something to within 1mm means that one side of the fold is within 1mm of touching the other side. After having folded their new AMOLED display once, the researchers proceeded to fold and unfold it in the same place 99,999 more times. Amazingly, after 100,000 fold/unfold cycles, the display did not develop a visible crease. To be precise, the relative brightness at the fold point did decrease by 6%, but according to the researchers such a small difference in brightness cannot be perceived by the human eye.
According to HongShik Shim, one of the coauthors of the study, “All the materials in a foldable window unit (glasses and silicone rubber) must have almost the same optical properties and attach to each other strongly without any optical property change.” That still doesn’t help me understand how in the world they were able to accomplish the feat of a crease-proof display, but I’ll leave that to the scientists and simply marvel at their work.