Researchers to Turn Human Hair into Flexible OLED Displays

Display technologies keep progressing with new solutions coming up to tackle Mini LED and Micro LED production difficulties and new materials using to create OLED display. Now, scientists are using recycled human hair to develop flexible OLED displays.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Griffith University in Austria have teamed up with a barbershop and develop a method to turn human hair into OLED display. The research was published in Advanced Materials.


(Image: Queensland University of Technology)

The small hair strands are broke down and burned at 240 degrees Celcius, then become carbon nanodots, which are tiny, uniform dots that are in the scale of μm. The processed nanodots were uniformly dispersed in a polymer and then allowed to self-assemble to form “nano-islands”, or small groupings of the nanodots. The formation of islands preserves the emission from a material in the solid state which is essentially needed for incorporating any nanomaterial into a device.

These nano-islands were used as an active layer in OLED devices. The device lit up with a blue color when a modest voltage, approximately equal to two or three pencil batteries, was applied to the device.


(Image: Queensland University of Technology)

Researchers noted that human hair derived carbon dot-based OLED devices could be used for some indoor applications such as smart packaging or for medical devices because of the non-toxicity of the material.

Professor Prashant Sonar, who involved in the research, said the carbon nanodots produced from human hair did not glow bright enough to be able to be used in T screens but could be used in a range of flexible screens from wearable devices to smart packaging.

One hypothetical example is a smart milk bottle, with a sensor built inside to give a real-time update of the milk’s expiry, with that information displayed on a screen on the outside.

After trying human hair, the team next wants to learn if animal hair can also deliver the same effect. In addition, the team also published research on how carbon dots made from human hair could also be used to develop a sensor that can perform real-time monitoring of chloroform levels in water treatment systems.

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