What's White, Bright, And Paper Thin?

FOR LOTS OF APPLICATIONS, from the backlights in laptop screens to lighting systems in airplanes, a lamp can never be too bright or too thin. That's why scientists are experimenting with flat panels made from ultrathin layers of unusual organic materials that light up when jolted with electricity. They have built devices that emit a variety of colors, but for many uses, there's nothing like white light--and no one organic material offers the proper snowy hue.

Now, researchers at Yamagata University in Japan may have found a solution. In work described in the Mar. 3 Science, a team led by materials scientist Junji Kido fashioned electroluminescent panels from three layers of such materials. One layer produces green light, the second red, and the third blue. Combined, the result is a powerful white light, 22 times as bright as a typical computer monitor. Kido quggests that with a few refinements, the output of the paper-thin device could even match fluorescent bulbs.

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