Flexible electronic displays, broadly defined as electronic circuits attached to flexible substrates, have a diverse array of applications outside of personal entertainment devices. Satellites integrated with lightweight, malleable components launch more effectively and still maintain durability due to the strength of semiconductors and transistors made from sheets of silicon, graphene, or molybdenite nanomaterials. Healthcare applications of flexible electronic displays include wearable sensors for homecare patients, which provide immediate medical information to caregivers noninvasively. Other applications of flexible display technology in medicine include discreet hearing aids and heart stents.
Research and development of flexible technology has recently been accelerated with the creation of new transfer methods to remove MoS2 nanofilms from their non-flexible substrates without causing cracks or wrinkles. Developing new techniques to move these atomically thin semiconductors is essential to the production of flexible technology, as the nano components are created on nonflexible substrates and must eventually be transferred to the flexible materials used in the final product. The flexible substrates the nanofilms are attached to cannot withstand the high temperatures under which the MoS2 nanosheets are created, and as a result the nanofilms must be attached to a non-flexible substrate, such as sapphire, during the heating process. By exploiting the hydrophobic properties of MoS2 and the hydrophilic nature of the sapphire substrate, the nanosheets and their initial substrates can be submerged in water and seamlessly detached in minutes. This liquid transfer technique is highly preferable to chemical etching, which utilizes corrosive acids that are harmful to the nanofilms and can take several hours to complete. By incorporating nanotechnology into flexible electronics, commercialization of these products has become a more realistic and achievable goal.
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Flexible technology is made possible through the combination of electronic circuitry incorporating nanosheets of silicon, graphene, or molybdenite and bendable substrates, usually of plastic, flexible glass, or metal foil. With increased investment into the development of these technologies, OLED’s, solar cells, satellite components, and medical devices may all use flexible technology within the next 10 years. Newly developed, inexpensive production techniques such as liquid transfer methods, used to separate hydrophobic nanofilms from hydrophilic non-flexible substrates, have advanced the practicality of flexible technology.
In addition to numerous potential applications, flexible technology is more resistant to damage than traditional glass interfaces through the use of plastic substrates or filter paper and more energy efficient by incorporating nanomaterials into its semiconductors. Specifically, MoS2 exhibits fluorescent properties at the nano-scale, making it an ideal material for use in OLED’s and flexible displays. Integrating water transfer methods of nanosheets into the production process improves the quality of the material and requires significantly less time to complete.
The leading concern with wearable technologies is the risk of radiation and uncertainty behind the effects of electromagnetics on the body. While the predicted energy output of a flexible technology associated with medical care is less than 1% of a microwave, resistance to these devices may be encountered without definitive safety assurance.