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Flat Lights

May 8, 2006

Flat-screen TVs and computer monitors are in high demand. But what about flat lights? We learn why they could be the next bright idea.


The next generation of lights. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Could light bulbs go the way of vinyl records and dial telephones? Maybe, if OLEDs really take off. That’s short for "organic light emitting diode." University of Southern California chemist Mark Thompson says these thin, energy-efficient, transparent films have limitless possibilities.

MARK THOMPSON (University of Southern California):
These devices can be made on flexible sheets of plastic, so that they can conform to match almost anything that somebody wants it to match. In other words, you could use it as wallpaper. You could use it as ceiling tiles. You can cut it into strips and weave it into fabric.

He and his colleague Stephen Forrest invented single-color OLED’s that are lighting up the latest cell phones. Now, they’ve developed a white-light version, which they hope will soon be lighting up entire rooms. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.