Hey Ma, we’re on TV!

I just saw a commercial for a new touch-screen camera on TV with Ashton Kutcher. Now, as much as I dislike the guy (mostly the product of an old roommate who met him and wouldn’t shut up about his man-love for Ashton), I got really excited for the commercial. A non-Ashton version is also floating around: new camera commercial

Listen to that! He said OLED! On a national commercial! (Actually, that commercial says “organic LED” while the Ashton one actually says “OLED”.) Organic LEDs, of course, being one of the two major projects of my thesis. Pretty awesome! The more the phrase starts getting thrown around outside of academia, the better. It’ll make it just that much easier for OLEDs to become The Next Big Thing.

For the curious, the basic principle of OLEDs in two sentences boils down to this: traditional LED displays use all sorts of semiconducting metals and elements (the big ones are gallium, phosphorus, and arsenic…yes, arsenic) to produce different colors. Organic LEDs use mostly “organic” elements to make their colors: hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen…fluorine too to some extent.

So why would you want OLEDs? Well, the obvious answer is cost. Carbon and oxygen cost way less to get a hold of than gallium or arsenic, so you can make your displays much more affordable. They’re also our gateway to sci-fi, since they’re really well suited for flexible stuff like this. So flexible displays, wrap-around lighting, that sort of thing. There’s still tons of work to be done (hence, my thesis!), but it’s exciting to see the phrase showing up on TV commercials.

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