Taking the graphics game to a new level, the Korean electronics giant Samsung teamed up with Stanford University to fabricate an OLED display with resolutions up to 10,000 pixels per inch (ppi).

The revolutionary "ultrahigh-resolution microdisplay" promises brighter images and purer colors on a scale never seen before. In a press release from the University, Stanford researchers and their collaborators from the Korean multinational expanded on existing technology used in electrodes of ultra-thin solar panels.

Their work has produced a new architecture for organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), enabling higher resolutions in televisions, smartphones, as well as virtual (VR) or augmented (AR) reality devices. To put that in context, high-end smartphones currently available have screen resolutions of 400 to 500 ppi.

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Stanford reports that the breakthrough builds on previous work by materials scientist Mark Brongersma, working with the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT). Brongersma worked on the project because of his expertise, stemming from his own goal of developing an ultra-thin design for solar panels. Together, its members submitted a report on the journal Science.

OLEDs and Optical Metasurfaces

In their submitted report, researchers cited optical metasurfaces as a growing part of modern display devices, lending its ability to control properties of light waves in providing better quality displays. Using nanopatterned metasurface mirrors, the Stanford-Samsung team created a new architecture for OLED displays. The surface generated different patterns that correspond to a red, green, or blue (RGB) pixel, maintaining an optimized extraction of the color from the organic LEDs' white light emitters.

These metasurfaces are created by fabricating a base layer - a reflective metal - onto which nanoscale corrugations are embedded. It then generates the different colors by controlling properties of light from the OLEDs, allowing the colors to resonate in the pixels through an effective light extraction from the organic diodes.

"We've taken advantage of the fact that, on the nanoscale, light can flow around objects like water," Brongersma said in the university release. The materials science professor and senior author of the report noted how the relatively young field of nanoscale photonics is now starting to affect real-world technologies.

"Our designs worked really well for solar cells and now we have a chance to impact next generation displays." Brongersma added.


OLEDs: The Future of Display Technologies

A core part of this new ultra-high resolution display is the OLED. These light emitting diodes are placed between highly-reflective, semi-transparent diodes that also drive current into these light devices, causing them to emit RGB lights. Each pixel in an OLED display is made up of a cluster of smaller sub-pixels. 

Currently available OLED display technologies can be divided into two: the RGB OLED and the White OLED tech. In red-green-blue OLEDs, each sub-pixel contains only one color and the display surface is created after spraying each layer through a fine metal mesh, precisely controlling the sub-pixels present in each pixel. However, this is often limited to small-scale applications, such as smartphones.

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On the other hand, white OLEDs are made up of pixels whose clusters include all three colors, using a filter to determine the color that will be displayed by that particular pixel. However, these filters slightly block the light, affecting its output and increases risk of burned images on the screen - pictures having an "afterimage."

Check out more news and information on OLED Displays in Science Times.