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Self-Powered Self-Healing Multi-Color Displays

Self-powered, self-healing technology sounds like something straight from the pages of a science-fiction tale, but now a group of researchers writing in the journal Nano Energy has developed an innovative and novel approach to produce self-healing elastomers with exceptional intrinsic stretchability and high self-healing efficiency.

Study: Self-Powered Multi-Color Display Based on Stretchable Self- Healing Alternating Current Electroluminescent Devices. Image Credit: elenabsl/Shutterstock.com

The technology for self-powered self-healing multi-color displays, which was developed by a team at Zhengzhou University in China, could have real potential applications in advanced electronics: “The self-powered and self-healing stretchable display may be promising in various applications such as health-care monitoring, intelligent wearable equipment, and self-powered communications in IoT,” explains graduate student and co-author Yu Chang.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and IoT devices are becoming more and more common in everyday and industrial applications. Multi-color displays that possess self-powering capabilities have extraordinary superiority in information communications for the internet of things (IoT).

Building Self-Powering Devices

While powering devices on the IoT network on a continuous basis is generally possible, a growing number of today’s cutting edge industrial and commercial applications necessitate the use of battery power or other mechanisms, sometimes making the supply of uninterrupted consistent power prohibitive.

However, new technologies are emerging which make self-powered, high-performing IoT devices a real possibility. The novel approach developed by Chang and her fellow researchers was inspired by the self-healing abilities of biological organisms and materials that are able to restore themselves after sustaining damage.

Materials including hydrogels, ionic gelands, and elastomers have demonstrated use in flexible, self-healing electronics such as electrodes, sensors, and displays. Typically, the self-healing process is activated by external stimuli such as pH, electro-magnetic fields, and light.

“Although brilliant advances have been achieved in this field, it remains a key challenge to develop intrinsic self-healing materials without any additional energy expenditure at room temperature,” says Yang.

In today’s world, multi-color display technology has found broad acceptance in intelligent display, artificial electronic skins, and information communications using a range of materials such as perovskite materials, quantum dots (QDs), and rare-earth compounds, Yang states, “self-powered displays driven by triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) have [also] drawn wide attention recently.”

Multi-color displays can be fabricated using a variety of techniques, among them screen-printing, lithography, and ink-jet printing: “By introducing the reversible dynamic imine bonds, PDMS is empowered with superb stretchability (2500 %) and high self-healing efficiency (96 %) under room temperature,” explains Yang.

Game-Changing Potential

The self-powered devices, which include a stretchable self-healing emission layer, can be fabricated and inserted into multi-color displays along with self-healing electrodes. As triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) are built into the system, the self-powered multi-color display is achieved, offering a state-of-the-art, powerful platform for self-power communication in IoT technologies.

In addition to finding potential application use in commercial and industrial IoT networks, the multi-color displays also demonstrate the potential for use in everyday wearable technologies and healthcare monitoring.

What makes these developments exciting is that state-of-the-art self-powered, self-healing technologies could pave the way for game-changing applications, as wearable sensors and mobile health applications are emerging as innovative solutions to support and enhance clinical treatment and facilitate telepathic diagnostics.

While self-powering abilities can maneuver around some of the prohibitive costs associated with providing a consistent power supply, the self-healing ability is also another ace up the sleeve as it could reduce electronic waste due to components and user-critical parts being able to regenerate rather than require costly repair or replacement.

Furthermore, as the self-powered self-healing multi-color displays are extremely stretchable they are well-suited to systems and devices that undergo particularly severe daily stresses and have the ability to survive demanding real-world applications. “The stretchable self-healing PDMS with superb stretchability is obtained by introducing reversible dynamic imine bonds,” says Yang.

Next steps include figuring out the scalability and real-world implementation of this fabrication method and technology. The evolution of self-healing and self-powered devices is helping researchers, scientists, and engineers meet the accelerating demands for interfacing electronics in an ever-growing number of applications in IoT, health-care monitoring, wearable electronics and even electronic skins for robotics, prosthetics, and other novel purposes. 

References and Further Reading

Yu Chang, Junlu Sun, Lin Dong, Fuhang Jiao, Shulong Chang, Yong Wang, Juan Liao, Yuanyuan Shang, Weiwei Wu, Yu Qi and Chong-Xin Shan, Self-Powered Multi-Color Display Based on Stretchable Self- Healing Alternating Current Electroluminescent Devices, Nano Energy, (2022) doi: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211285522001458?via%3Dihub.

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David J. Cross

Written by

David J. Cross

David is an academic researcher and interdisciplinary artist. David's current research explores how science and technology, particularly the internet and artificial intelligence, can be put into practice to influence a new shift towards utopianism and the reemergent theory of the commons.

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