Wednesday, 06 May, 2009 Science

Latest Invention: Light-emitting Ink that Can Be Applied on Any Surface


Scientists from a company called Dai Nippon Printing, based in Tokyo, Japan, managed to come up with their latest invention in science - a light-emitting ink which is basically an electronic display that can be applied on virtually any type of surface.

Researchers used a screen-printing method in order to apply a thin layer of luminescent gel on a surface. The main element of the light-emitting gel is a ruthenium compound that radiates a bright light each time a voltage is applied to it. The gel consists of an electrode and silica nanoparticles. When printed onto surface, there is no need to apply protective coating on the ink, as the electrolyte keeps it safe from degrading. The electrolyte represents an ionic liquid that does not evaporate.

What is interesting about this latest invention is that the ink can be used with any type of textiles due to the fact that it won't wash with water. The ink takes the form of gel with the help of silica nanoparticles that mix with the ink making it possible for the light-emitting liquid to be applied onto surfaces in discrete blobs, to produce pixels.

There are a couple of drawbacks in the latest invention of the Tokyo-based company: 1. currently the ink can radiate reddish hues, but scientists are working on metal compounds that can radiate green and blue light; 2. so far the screen-printing procedure makes it possible to apply only rough pixels, which is why the images look blurry, informs News Scientist.

Japanese researchers are also trying to develop techniques that would allow applying the light-emitting gel onto different surfaces with the help of an ink-jet printer. Thus they will be able to create smaller pixels. This means that it would be possible to deposit images of higher resolution. Besides, ink-jet printing is much cheaper that the currently used lithographic techniques.

Within 5 years Dai Nippon Printing looks forward to launch its latest invention on the market. It believes that the new technology will be used to create light-emitting posters, various clothes, flexible displays, as well as new lighting applications.

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