Carbon nanotubes also offer extra benefits such as increased material flexibility and hardiness. This could make them an attractive alternative to transparent conducting oxides for OLEDs in new areas of display and lighting applications.

By applying the appropriate chemical treatment, the team believes that nanotubes could also replace the metal cathodes found in OLEDs. This would allow the devices to emit light from both sides.

"We have been working with this outstanding material for several years and the idea of implementing carbon nanotubes came naturally because of our research interest," Richard Martel, one of the researchers at the Regroupement Québécois sur les Matériaux de Pointe (RQMP) in Quebec, told optics.org.

"The nanotube films are conductive and transparent fabrics and this is clearly the main advantage," added Martel. "It opens up new possibilities for see-through displays and other advanced geometries, plus it is light-weight. Overall it appears more robust as a base technology for electronic paper."

The researchers fabricated their single walled nanotubes using a pulsed laser vaporization technique. Once integrated into the OLED, the device's I/V characteristics and efficiency were examined and compared to ones made under the same conditions on ITO-coated glass substrates. The results showed a luminance efficiency of 1.4 cdA-1 for the nanotube OLED, compared to 1.9 cdA-1 for the ITO-based version.

"We are now exploring different geometries and doping the nanotube sheets to achieve better sheet resistance and transparency," concluded Martel.