Lighting up the future
High school students attend a workshop on OLED technology .
Technology enthusiasts know there has been much buzz about Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs), a technology that seems poised to revolutionize everything from televisions and smartphones to lighting. Around twenty high school students (grades 11 and 12) got a taste of exactly how this innovation works during an intensive hands-on workshop hosted under the auspices of the Natural Sciences Department at LAU Byblos on August 22-23.
“OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) have found their way into everyday life,” says Dr. Brigitte Wex, assistant professor of Chemistry. “During the two days, students learned how this new technology works and how it compares to other lighting and display technologies.”
OLEDs have a fairly simple device construction: a substrate is coated with a conductive material (anode layer) followed by an organic layer and a cathode layer. When applying a voltage, the emitting organic layer creates light, which is the main advantage over other display technologies that require a secondary lighting source to function. Many smartphones, such as Samsung Galaxy S4 and Motorola Moto X, have taken advantage of this technology which provides brighter and improved displays on electronic devices while using less power than LEDs (light-emitting diodes) or liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
Going beyond theoretical concerns, the workshop presented the participants with the opportunity to produce and illuminate an actual OLED device on their own, Wex explains.
The students undertook the challenge with palpable excitement. “It was fascinating to learn about the different technologies that are out there with respect to energy,” enthused 16-year-old Nilufer Samad from Eastwood College. “When the electricity goes off at home I think about it in a totally different way now.”
17-year-old Sally Farah echoes the sentiment of her fellow lab mate, “I didn’t know much about OLEDs before this workshop, I feel like I have learned so much.” Pointing to her crisp white lab coat she says, “For the first time I feel like a real scientist.”
This is the essence of what lies at the core of such projects, says Wex, empowering students to use technology to improve their surroundings. “It is important for young people to learn about power consumption and energy efficiency,” she explains. “Energy is a limited resource, and we hope that with events such as this, we inspire students to think outside the box and enhance their knowledge about technologies that can conserve energy.”
The workshop is the first half of a two-part project initiated by Wex and sponsored by an outreach grant from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics with an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light. Part II of the project will be another workshop held during the Spring 2014 Sciences and Arts Fair at LAU Byblos. Dr. Nelly Mouawad, assistant professor of Physics, instructor Jessy Haddad, science lab supervisors Maya Farah and Rasha Sleiman, and students Ghinwa El-Hayek and Majd Assaad worked closely with Dr. Wex to organize the event.