This is cool! Are they anticipating incorporating feedback as to the distortion so that the image can be adjusted or does it just distort? I can think of applications for both cases, but it seems like serious applications would be likely to benefit from the feedback. I am thinking of a screen folded into 1/4 size initially. Unfold it and the image scales accordingly to take up the entire view. Stretch it horizontally and it expands in that dimension with a wider image.
Good ideas all, thanks, but the researchers biggest priority right now is finding a stretchable encapsulaiton method to protect it from exposure to air--which deteriorates all OLEDs. And secondly, to engineer a flexible thin-film transistor (TFT) so the display can be made active--the prototype is passive. Others are also working on these problems as well, in particular professor Zhenan Bao at Stanford University is also working flexible TFTs.
CRTs, then LCD/LED/OLED and now it seems that flexible displays will be in the retail market very soon, and that will again start a revolutionary thing, really a remarkable work and achievement by UCLA scientists.
This is looks very good news and it has so many new applications. However, in more demanding applications, optical properties are also equally important. Once OLDEs are stretchable, how one defines optical properties? It must be challenging for designer and user.
The unfolding scenario is completely feasible, however making the image adjust to a stretched screen will require some magic.
When you stretch the screen, you're not increasing the resolution, merely distorting the existing pixels (making them longer, or possibly just spreading them out).
While it would be theoretically possible to simply lower the resolution of the image at that point, you would have to drop to the lowest resoltution capable at that moment. Basically, your image would get blurrier the bigger you stretched the screen if you wanted to maintain the initial aspect ratio.
While the idea of a foldable and stretchable screen is neat, I think the biggest impact here will be durability. A flexible screen isn't going to break when you drop it. When your phone flexes, you don't risk a shattered screen.
@Caleb Kraft "the biggest impact here will be durability"
Brilliant observation! I had not thought of the durability aspect, probably because the researchers did not mention it, but I think you are right. Everybody wants a more durable display, and making one would merely mean using these more durable materials, whereas a display that is intended to be viewed in its stretched state has the engineering hurdles that you and others in this thread have mentioned.
I might be wrong but i think glass is used because of the touch screen purpose and not due to limitations of the LED/OLED. But if we can basically provide two most impotant aspect (transparency and conductivity) in stretchable material then we will have undistructable or more durable screen.