Researchers from the University of Exeter have developed a new material that makes computer screens more flexible and reliable.

A flexible LED developed by researchers at Exeter University using a new variant of grapheneThey have developed their own version of graphene – called GraphExeter – that is more transparent, lightweight and flexible for conducting electricity. This could boost the brightness of LEDs and flexible screens by as much as 50%.

The research has shown that using GraphExeter makes LEDs 30 per cent more efficient than existing examples of flexible lighting, which are based on state-of-the-art commercial polymers, and could be even more efficient.

The research team believe the technology could help significantly improve the viability of the next generation of flexible screens for smartphones or wearable electronic devices such as clothing containing computers or MP3 players.

“Not only are lights that use GraphExeter much brighter, they are also far more resilient to repeated flexing”


“This exciting development shows there is a bright future for the use of GraphExeter in transforming flexible lighting on a mass scale, and could help revolutionise the electronics industry,” says one of the lead researchers, University of Exeter physicist Dr Saverio Russo.

“Not only are lights that use GraphExeter much brighter, they are also far more resilient to repeated flexing, which makes ‘bendy’ screens much more feasible for day-to-day goods such as mobile phones.”

Next steps

Currently, flexible screens are still in their infancy and although they are useable, the size of the screens are limited by the materials used for mass production, which can cause a visible gradient of brightness as the size of screen increases.

At just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest substance capable of conducting electricity. It is very flexible and is one of the strongest known materials. GraphExeter has an extra layer of ferric chloride between layers of graphene, and this allowed the team to create a screen that showed a far greater and consistent light than has previously been possible and is also more flexible.

“The next step will be to embed these ultra-flexible GraphExeter lights on textile fibres and pioneer ground-breaking applications in health care light therapy,” said Dr Monica Craciun, also from the University of Exeter.

You can find out more about the tech at the University of Exeter’s GraphExeter page.