ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: March 09, 2022

Deuterated compounds brighten up TV displays

“Your Next TV Could Contain Isotopes”
Chemical & Engineering News

Television displays continue to get larger, sharper and more colorful, and now they could be up to 30% brighter. A feature article in Chemical & Engineering News, an independent news outlet of the American Chemical Society, describes the technology behind LG Display’s new organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays containing deuterated compounds. The compounds, which boost brightness by increasing materials’ lifetimes, could someday be applied to other electronics, including computer monitors, signs and automotive displays.

OLED TVs boast a better picture quality than the more common liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), due in part to higher contrast. But they are not as bright as most LCDs. Recently, LG Display unveiled a next-generation technology, called OLED.EX, that offers up to 30% enhanced brightness compared with conventional OLED displays, according to Senior Editor Alex Tullo. The company acknowledged that the improved brightness was made possible by a compound, supplied by DuPont, in which at least one hydrogen has been replaced with its heavier isotope, deuterium. Because the bonds between carbon and deuterium are stronger than those between carbon and hydrogen, materials made with deuterated compounds have a longer lifetime, which allows OLED displays to run brighter than the previous generation but last just as long.

Currently, OLED displays make up only about 3% of the television sector, compared to 30–40% of the smartphone market share, writes Tullo. However, deuterium has the potential to expand the OLED market for TV and other more demanding display applications. For example, deuteration could someday be used to boost the lifetime of automotive displays, which deteriorate quickly during hot summer conditions. Before these compounds can be used widely, though, and their cost can come down, the supply bottleneck for deuterium must be resolved, experts say. Deuterium is present in natural water at a ratio of 1 deuterium atom for every 6,400 hydrogens, but not many heavy water production facilities — which concentrate deuterium-containing water (D2O) — exist. Therefore, most deuterium currently comes from government stockpiles.

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