These impossibly thin QLED screens can fold into origami

With foldable phones on the rise, next-gen display technology is hotter than ever.

Crease or no crease, being able to fold a phone screen in half is pretty cool — but what if you could bend that same screen three times? Or four? Or contort it into the shape of a star?

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Turns out researchers are actually working on making a display that can do just that, and in that pursuit, they’ve made some significant headway. The contraption you see here is a quantum LED (QLED) display from researchers at the Institute for Basic Science Nanoparticle Research Center that can fold and bend into actual origami.

Part of what makes this early concept interesting is how thin the technology is — it measures just 3 micrometers. Researchers say that thinness could make it viable in applications like electronic newspapers or other paper-like devices.

“Through the technology reported in this research, paper-like QLEDs that can be folded into various complex structures have been successfully fabricated. Who knows when the day will come when electronic paper with a display unit can replace real paper?"

Hyeon Taeghwan, director of the Center for Nanoparticle Research

This technology is still very much experimental, meaning there are still some drawbacks — durability for one. This display can be folded about 500 times before it starts to fall apart, whereas displays used in devices like the Galaxy Fold have about 200,000 lifetime bends. There’s also a pretty limited pixel count...

64 pixels

Prototypes only have a max of 64 pixels.


Still, despite limitations, it’s pretty cool to see researchers pushing the boundaries of what folding display tech can do. If everything goes according to plan, your first ever Origami phone might just be closer than you think.

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