Boffins promise flexible laptops

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Boffins promise flexible laptops

Pioneering work to develop next-generation plastics could pave the way for electronic billboards, flexible laptops and high-definition television screens only 1cm thick.

The predictions are by Israeli researchers Marianna Khorzov and David Andelman from the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University, and Rafi Shikler, from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Ben Gurion University.

The scientists forecast that plastic-based transistors and organic light-emitting displays are set to "shake the electronics market".

Although transistors, the fundamental building block in modern electronic devices, are traditionally made of silicon, plastic-based versions are easier and cheaper to manufacture.

And because plastic is flexible, we could soon see ultra-thin flexible laptops, for example, that would be impossible to make using silicon transistors.

The report, published in Physics World, points out that conventional light-emitting displays used in devices such as televisions, laptops and iPods are rigid, expensive and complex to manufacture.

Organic light-emitting displays, based on plastic electronics engineering, are easier to manufacture, more flexible and, as an added bonus, also consume less energy.

Other exciting developments are likely to be in the field of bionics, including materials sensitive but flexible enough to replicate skin which could be used by robots in situations where a sense of touch is crucial.

"We expect that, for many applications, these materials will gradually replace silicon and metals, and may even make possible entirely new technologies in the field of bionics," the researchers said.

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