The domestic application of organic electronics is becoming more of a reality thanks to advances in powering these devices, which use organic semiconductors to create a new age of circuit and display technology.
There are many advantages to using organic materials to create displays on laptops, TVs and more. These displays can be mounted on flexible materials which completely eliminates the heavy and delicate glass substrates currently used in liquid-crystals displays (LCDs) found on most modern televisions.
Many well-known electronics firms including Philips and Pioneer have recognized the potential applications of organic electronics, and as a result are investing a significant amount of time and money in their development.
It is hoped that the use of organic light-emitting devices (OLEDs) will in the future replace LCDs. Currently, OLEDs function at sufficient levels to power a variety of eco-friendly and low energy devices but their applications are currently limited.
One problem so far has been that the power source for has been provided by solar cells, batteries or wireless transformers as opposed to connecting to a domestic electricity supply. This is because the high voltage provided by a national grid system damages the delicate components of organic electronics. If one of the future uses for these organic electronics is hoped to be a replacement for LCD television displays then a much more practical power source would be a domestic plug socket.
A team from Linköping University and Umeå University in Sweden has been working to solve this problem. Led by Docent Deyu Tu from Linköping University’s Division of Information Coding, the team have been working hard to develop a solution which allows these devices to be powered by a domestic electricity supply. Deyu Tu states that “for the first time in the world we have been able to demonstrate an AC/DC converter in organic electronics that functions at voltages about 300V.”
The converter developed by the team in order to achieve this consisted of a diode-configured organic thin-film transistor, which could operate at high voltages of up to 325V. It is also capable of converting alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). The converter’s functionality was tested by powering a low-voltage light-emitting electrochemical cell (LEC).
This is an important development in the use of organic electronics for domestic applications. “Our converter paves the way for a wave of flexible, thin, cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions for the electronics of the future” says Deyu Tu, who led the research.
This work is very much an initial stage in order to prove that it is possible to use domestic appliances powered by organic electronics. In order to extend their use into real products it will be necessary to improve the efficiency of the power conversion, however this is an important step forward. In fact, the research has gained a great deal of interest, with Deyu Tu now being invited to speak at conferences in both Japan and China.
Top image: Demonstration of a flexible OLED device. (CC BY-SA 3.0)