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Brief Published: 13 May 2015

Light-Emitting Paper

Lightpaper by Rohinni

Scientists from Umeå University in Sweden have created a low-cost, light-emitting display using ordinary paper. The product uses cheap, eco-friendly materials and could be printed using a similar process to newspapers.

The researchers sprayed layers of a current-carrying material in solution on to cheap copy paper, and a sealant layer on top. Once set, the paper remains highly flexible and can glow as brightly as a computer display when charged with 11 volts.

Ludvig Edman, who led the research, said the invention could be a low-cost alternative to organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) used in high-end displays.

Future applications might also include disposable displays for newspapers, smart food packaging that lights up when the contents are spoiled, or reactive pill packaging that alerts patients if they forget to take their medicine.

The group's research paper, published in April 2015, highlights the considerable commercial interest in low-cost, flexible, light-emitting displays.

In November 2014, US tech firm Rohinni unveiled Lightpaper, a new light-emitting material created by infusing white ink with LEDs. The firm has been working with manufacturers to bring Lightpaper to the consumer market by mid-2015.

Lighter, thinner materials are at the forefront of research – see Flat Tech, part of our Materials Focus 2016, for more. For insight into how brands are harnessing new display technologies, see Enhanced Retail Realities, part of our Post-Digital Macro Trend.