A team from the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) have developed a textile-based wearable display that’s machine washable and powered by solar energy. Polymer solar cells have been one of the most promising elements for next-generation power source, especially for wearable and optoelectronic applications because they can provide stable power without an external power source, while organic light emitting diodes can be driven with milliwatts.
However, the problem was that they are both vulnerable to external moisture and oxygen. The conventional encapsulation barrier is sufficient for normal environments. But it loses its characteristics in aqueous environments, such as water. It limits the commercialisation of wearing displays that must operate even on rainy days or after washing. To tackle this issue, the team employed a washable encapsulation barrier that can protect the device without losing its characteristics after washing through atomic layer deposition and spin coating. The encapsulated device exhibited no deterioration in properties over 30 days even after being subject to both bending stress and washing. Since it uses a less stressful textile, compared to conventional wearable electronic devices that use traditional plastic substrates, this technology can accelerate the commercialization of wearing electronic devices.