21 August 2009—Organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, are seen as the successor to liquid crystal technology for small, pixel-dense displays like the ones in laptops, smartphones, and digital cameras. Conventional inorganic LEDs, which are poised to put incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs out to pasture, have never been in the race, because the processing techniques used to make them don’t allow scaling down to the resolution required for a pocket-size display.

But a group made up of researchers based in Illinois and Beijing reported yesterday in the online edition of Science that they have developed methods for creating, assembling, and connecting inorganic LEDs on a flexible substrate. This will finally allow the miniaturization of the technology, which beats OLEDs in brightness, energy efficiency, durability, and moisture resistance.