back to article Boffins build bendy screen using LEDs just THREE atoms thick

A team of scientists at the University of Washington (UW) have created the world's thinnest LED that is both flexible and stackable, making a new class of handheld devices and light-driven processor chips feasible. LED Team shine light on single layer LEDs ... a plane of the 2D lights "These are 10,000 times smaller than …


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  1. Adam 1

    > just three atoms tall, technically making them 2D rather than 3D objects

    No. It makes them very short 3D objects unless they are either no atoms wide or no atoms deep.

    1. Ketlan


      "It makes them very short 3D objects unless they are either no atoms wide or no atoms deep."

      Surely that'd make them non-existent.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      "No. It makes them very short 3D objects..."

      No, it makes them four dimensional as they begin and an end at a point in time. There's also an outside chance they have more dimensions; it depends which God TOE you believe in.

      Alternatively, you could accept that for all intents and purposes a couple of atoms thick counts as two dimensional.

    3. illiad

      How DUMB are you??? draw a squiggle on paper with your pen.. is this 2D or 3D???

      2D of couse!! UNTIL you put it under a very powerful microscope, and see the globules of ink, sitting on top of paper...

      'flat' paper is 3D close up!

      1. Ketlan

        I don't get it...

        "How DUMB are you???"

        How RUDE are you???

        "'flat' paper is 3D close up!"

        And still quite a lot of atoms thick. Now have a very close look at something consisting of no atoms at all and tell me THAT'S 3D.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Adam 1

      Since when is an atom a unit of measurement of height? For a start, are you referring to the 32 pm helium atoms or the 200+ pm caesium atoms? Why stop at atoms? Protons are a lot smaller at 1.7 fm but I digress.

      2D exists only as an abstract concept to help us to work with surface areas and planes. Just because something is abstract doesn't make it any less useful (see √-1 for example).

      So small; yes

      impressive; yes

      Could be considered 2D for many purposes; of course but so can a piece of paper.

      2D; nope

      1. Ketlan

        Fair enough

        That makes more sense. Thanks for the explanation.

  2. Steve Knox

    And how long before this is ready for market?

    Been here before. Many times, over the past 4 decades...

    1. oliver 8

      Re: And how long before this is ready for market?

      Well I agree with the sentiment you're probably subscribed to the wrong news outlet if you want to see consumer goods as they arrive.

      A lot of articles here are about new technology, not consumer products but cutting edge technology that in many cases will never see the bright lights of Wal-Mart. The technological advance in the last 4 decades had been huge, not everything made it to shop floors but every piece technology you own started with a small group of scientists making breakthroughs like this.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: And how long before this is ready for market?

        "Well I agree with the sentiment you're probably subscribed to the wrong news outlet if you want to see consumer goods as they arrive."

        While that is true enough, I'd not be surprised to see the kinks ironed out for commercial processing techniques within a few years and production of circuits in a 5-7 year time frame.

        Optical signalling in molecular size arrays is rather a holy grail quest as frequencies rise, capacitive and inductive losses accumulate.

        Still, if it pans out as practical and efficient, let's call it a decade so that high efficiency devices are available.

        Or, the entire deal may prove impractical for production and nothing will ever see the light of day.

  3. McHack


    This could go right to glowing fabrics. While no doubt will be popular with the rave set, it could revolutionize safety garments as reflective strips that are illuminated at night, easier to see before they're in headlight range. That'd benefit highway and utility workers. And joggers and cyclists too, and small kiddies crossing the street, etc.

    Wait until they put those strips on sneakers, walking during the day will charge the batteries.

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Safety!

      tbh there is no reason why existing tech can't be used for safety. Still, glowing fabric is a good idea too.

  4. Paul 129


    Light emmitting DIODES people! DIODES, as used in easly logic circuits. This could have all sorts of digital applications. (Key of course is the electrical characteristics)

    So they're trying the sicky tape approach with other materials and seeing whats useful. Better jump to it or someone else will patent the results....

    Hmm... Duct tape is so much better.... And I think even mythbusters got the Saami Rocket happening....

    I wonder.... B-)

  5. AndrueC Silver badge

    The brainiacs were able to harvest single sheets of the material using adhesive tape, a technique pioneered in graphene production.

    Is there no limit to what you can do with Duct Tape?

    1. DropBear

      Clearly there isn't. That much was obviously apparent once they managed to fix Apollo 13 with it...

      1. Craig 28

        Duct tape is like the Force... it has a light side and a dark side, and it binds the universe together.

  6. James Boag

    LED Wallpaper Yeah no more redecorating !

    1. Nibble

      LED Wall paper

      Solid LED ceiling, no more hanging lighting to bang your head on.

    2. Moosh
      Thumb Up

      I now really want a large, colour, E-Ink canvas adorning my wall. When I get tired of whatever image it is, I could just load up a new image on it, and it wouldn't really use any battery because it would only be changing screens every few months or so.

      1. MrDamage

        Bugger e-ink

        I'll go with the LED's, and have a rotating picture of a spiral galaxy as my wallpaper/ceilingpaper.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: New panoramic 8K TV anyone

      Pixels only a few atoms thick and wide?

      Yeah, but you'd probably only get one photon at a time out of each of them. Pixel density doesn't need to exceed what the human eye can distinguish and there also has to be a lower limit to the luminosity else we won't be able to see much. A wall-sized screen with a low weight and low energy consumption would seem possible; the majority of it in practice would be a surface sturdy enough to stop your toddler licking the pixels off your telly.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: a surface sturdy enough to stop your toddler licking the pixels off your telly

        I know that one ! It's called "glass", and there's a new model with holes in it.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Note the light is emitted from the *side*

    Because otherwise you'd have light coming from a surface about 1/1000 of a wavelength wide.

    Which would would be impressive.

    BTW it's emissions band is also voltage tuneable which could enable a whole bunch of other applications, as well as possible laser architectures.

    But of course this is v 0.1 tech.

    Cautious thumbs up.

  9. Old Handle

    Standard Measuring Equipment

    That would be an eyeball, right? No? So in other words these are LEDs too dim to see. Okay I know it's just a prototype, but that's a fairly important detail.

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