Light plays a fundamental role in our lives. It provides illumination and stimulation; it can affect our emotions and bring safety to the darkness. Light even regulates basic biological processes deep within our bodies. Flexible, lightweight and shining over large areas in almost any shape, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) will let us do more with light than ever before – opening up new designs and ways to treat illness. And with lighting currently using around 20% of the world's electricity, OLEDs' potential for high efficiency could save huge amounts of energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Smart home sensors, long-term health monitoring, wearable electronics, the Internet of Things. They all have one thing in common: the need for devices that operate autonomously for long periods without having to change batteries. Holst Centre and its ecosystem are making that happen by reducing the power consumption of the components that make up these devices and exploring ways to harvest unused energy from the environment.
Flexible OLED Displays
From the Internet of Things to health monitoring and lifestyle tracking, the future connected world will be driven by data. And people will need to be able to review and interact with that data at home, at work or on the go. Flexible and efficient, OLED-based displays are ideal for mobile and portable systems that will let us take data to new places. Research being carried out at Holst Centre will reduce power consumption, extend lifetimes, improve performance and cut manufacturing costs for these soon-to-be ubiquitous displays.
Wearable Health Solutions
Wearable electronics was once a pipedream. Not anymore, as we see more and more wearable devices appear, and one of the key growth application areas is wearable health. To unleash the full potential of wearable health, solutions must become truly personalized, and devices must deliver high quality data. They need to become thinner, more flexible and stretchable so they are more comfortable to wear. Power consumption needs to be reduced to improve autonomy. And we need to expand the range of wearable functionality available to open up new healthcare, as well as consumer lifestyle, applications.
Smart Flexible Systems
Today's world is full of intelligent electronic devices based on conventional, rigid silicon chips. Making intelligent systems flexible opens up the possibility of embedding that functionality directly into clothing, plastics and construction materials, changing the way we interact with electronics. Building smart systems would also make it possible to produce electronics in high-throughput roll-to-roll processes, cutting manufacturing costs. Holst Centre and its ecosystem are the forefront of a wide range of fundamental technologies that will make smart flexible systems possible.
As a planet, we're using ever more energy. Meanwhile the economic and environmental cost of fossil fuels is becoming increasingly worrying. The hunt is on for reliable and affordable eco-friendly alternatives. Solar power will be a key part of that future green energy mix. Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) could be produced in high-throughput, roll-to-roll processes – cutting the cost of solar panels. What's more, as they are light, flexible and offer complete freedom of shape, OPVs could be integrated directly into building materials and electronic systems, making "solar" power attractive both indoors and out.