OLED breakthrough could make smartphone screens twice as energy efficient

5 Jul 2019

Microscope images of chiral layers of carbon-based polymers for light-emitting diodes. Image: Imperial College London

This week in future tech, smartphone screens are set to get a lot brighter and more energy efficient using a new OLED.

The pixels that bring your smartphone and TV screens to life are lit by tiny devices called organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In order to overcome the challenge of seeing the screen on a sunny day, manufacturers cover screens with an anti-glare filter.

Because of the physics behind the filter, half of the light generated by each OLED pixel gets trapped in the display, thereby halving their energy efficiency. Now, a research team from Imperial College London, including Dr Jess Wade, has found a way to overcome this problem.

Publishing its findings to ACS Nano, the team showed it was possible to control the chemistry of OLED materials and therefore create ones that give off a special type of polarised light that can bypass the anti-glare filter.

“Our study suggests, for the first time, that by changing our OLED recipe we can generate efficient polarising OLEDs,” Wade explained. “The findings could make screens of all kinds brighter, with better contrast and longer life.”

Aside from making screens brighter and more energy efficient, the polarised light generated by the materials has potential applications in the storage, transmission and encryption of information.

BMW and Daimler forge autonomous driving partnership

German auto giants BMW and Daimler have formed an even stronger partnership following the announcement of a new long-term deal to jointly develop autonomous driving technology up to Level 4, one step below fully autonomous vehicles.

The technology will focus on driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and automated parking. In addition, further talks are planned to extend the cooperation to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centres.

The deal has set a date on having these technologies introduced to their respective cars by 2024.

Ericsson to open first totally automated 5G smart factory in 2020

Ericsson is set to open one of the most advanced facilities in North America, which, it said, will be the first fully automated smart factory in the world.

Set to begin operations in early 2020, the factory’s focus will be on producing antenna systems to boost network coverage in rural areas. It will also produce 5G radios for urban areas for rapid deployments in North America. The location of the factory has yet to be announced.

Ericsson said that 5G connectivity will enable agile and flexible production through automated warehouses; connected logistics and automated assembly; packing and product handling; and the use of autonomous carts.

The factory will not be totally human-free, however, with plans to have 100 people working there when operational.

Blockchain payments to see cross-border transaction surge

A new study from Juniper Research found that 14bn B2B cross-border transactions will be processed by 2023, rising from 13.5bn in 2019 and marking a 7pc increase. This will be driven by the introduction of blockchain-based payment networks, it said.

According to the research, international payments will become faster, cheaper and less complex, and be driven by network innovation. As blockchain facilitates complete traceability of transactions, the introduction of the technology would increase transparency, improve standardisation and reduce errors.

“Future growth in B2B cross-border transactions will be driven by innovative corporate payment solutions that make transparency central to their models, following the example set by disruptive vendors in the consumer money transfer market,” said research author Maitê Bezerra.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic