Discovery: UTD Team Develops ‘Bendy’ Micro LEDs That Can Fold, Twist, and Stick to Most Anything

The next-gen electronics, which can even be cut, could reshape the future of wearable technology.

Dr. Moon Kim, Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UT Dallas shown with the research team's bendable electronics. [Images: Courtesy of UTD]

Whats new, next, and reimagined in Dallas-Fort Worth ResearchA University of Texas at Dallas research team, together with international colleagues, has developed a method to make flexible micro LEDs that can be “folded, twisted, cut, and stuck” to almost anything, according to UT Dallas’ Dr. Moon Kim.

The next-gen electronics could reshape the future of wearable technology, the professor said in a news release.

“You can transfer it onto your clothing or even rubber—that was the main idea,” Dr. Kim said. “It can survive even if you wrinkle it. If you cut it, you can use half of the LED.”

Beyond clothing, the bendy LEDs offer a broad range of use cases from flexible lighting to biomedical devices. The small size opens up more possibilities, such as in smart watches.

UTD’s research colleagues in South Korea put the invention to the test by adhering the next-gen LEDs to curved surfaces and other materials that were later twisted, bent, and even crumpled. In one demo, the team attached a LED to a LEGO mini-figure. The outcome? According to Dr. Kim, the quality nor the electronic properties of the LED are affected by bending or cutting.

The team’s research was published in Science Advances in June.  

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