Liquid Crystals that Light Up

By Duncan Graham-Rowe in Technology Review, November 9 2009

Liquid crystals are normally used in displays to polarize the light from a white backlight. But research by Stephen Kelly, head of chemistry at the University of Hull, in the UK, and physicist Mary O'Neill, also at the University of Hull, has shown that it is possible to make liquid crystals that emit light when electrically stimulated.

Kelly made this discovery in 2000. He and O'Neill have since worked to refine the technology. Now a company called Polar OLED, based in Leeds, UK, has been spun out to work with display companies to commercialize it. Polar OLED's material can be used to make novel light-emitting diodes for OLED displays, as well as simple but higher-quality backlights for traditional LCDs, says Kelly.

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