Nanotechnology in Displays: A Bright Future for a Sustainable Society

A Game-Changer for Environmental and Social Impact


Nanotechnology is the science and engineering of manipulating matter at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers in size. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter or about the size of a few atoms. 

Nanotechnology has many applications in various fields, such as medicine, energy, electronics, and materials. One of the most promising and exciting applications of nanotechnology is in the field of display technologies, which are the visual devices used to display digital information, images, and video.

Display technologies are essential for many aspects of modern life, such as communication, entertainment, education, and business. However, conventional display technologies have some limitations and drawbacks, such as high power consumption, low resolution, limited viewing angles, and environmental impact. 

Nanotechnology can overcome these challenges and enable more advanced, high-quality, and energy-efficient displays that can benefit society and the environment.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the recent advancements and potential of nanotechnology in display technologies, focusing on three broad categories: organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), electronic paper (e-paper), and field emission displays (FEDs). 

We will also discuss how nanotechnology can contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which are a set of 17 global goals that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030.

OLEDs: Flexible and Vivid Displays

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are a type of display technology that uses organic materials to produce light. OLEDs are thin, flexible, and offer high contrast, fast response time, and wide viewing angles, making them ideal for mobile devices, televisions, and other applications.

OLEDs can also produce a wide range of colors and brightness levels. Nanotechnology plays a crucial role in the development and production of OLED displays. Nanoscale organic materials are precisely engineered to emit light when an electric current is applied. 

These materials can be deposited on various substrates using techniques such as inkjet printing or spin coating. Nanotechnology can also improve the performance and efficiency of OLED displays by enhancing the charge transport and light extraction properties of organic materials.

Nanotechnology-based OLED Displays

Quantum dot OLEDs (QD-OLEDs)

Quantum dot OLEDs (QD-OLEDs) use quantum dots as light-emitting materials. Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles that can emit different colors of light depending on their size. QD-OLEDs can achieve higher color purity and brightness than conventional OLEDs.

Transparent OLEDs (TOLEDs)

Transparent OLEDs (TOLEDs), use transparent electrodes and substrates to create see-through displays. TOLEDs can be used for applications such as augmented reality (AR), smart windows, and interactive surfaces.

Flexible OLEDs (FOLEDs)

Flexible OLEDs (FOLEDs), use flexible substrates such as plastic or metal foil to create bendable displays. FOLEDs can be used for applications such as wearable devices, foldable phones, and curved screens.

E-paper: Paper-like Displays

Electronic paper (e-paper), also known as e-ink or electronic ink, is a type of display technology that mimics the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. E-paper displays are reflective, low power, and offer high contrast, making them ideal for applications such as e-readers, digital signs, and wearable devices.

Nanotechnology is used to develop electronic inks for e-paper displays. These inks contain nanoparticles that can change color when an electric field is applied, allowing them to display text and images. 

Nanotechnology can also improve the performance and functionality of e-paper displays by enhancing the switching speed, color range, resolution, and durability of electronic inks.

Nanotechnology-based e-paper Displays

Electrophoretic e-paper (EPD)

Electrophoretic e-paper (EPD), which uses electrically charged pigment particles suspended in a liquid medium. The particles move to the surface or the bottom of the medium depending on the polarity of the applied voltage, creating black-and-white or color images.

Electrochromic e-paper (ECD)

Electrochromic e-paper (ECD), uses electrochemical reactions to change the color of thin films or nanoparticles. The color change depends on the oxidation or reduction state of the electroactive materials.

Electrowetting e-paper (EWD)

Electrowetting e-paper (EWD), which uses electrically controlled wetting phenomena to manipulate colored oil droplets on a hydrophobic surface. The droplets expand or contract depending on the applied voltage, creating color images.

FEDs: High-resolution Displays

Field emission displays (FEDs) are a type of display technology that uses electron emitters to create images on a screen. FEDs offer high resolution, FEDs offer high resolution, high brightness, wide color gamut, and fast refresh rate, making them suitable for applications such as monitors, televisions, and projectors. 

FEDs can also operate at low voltage and consume less power than conventional CRTs. Nanotechnology plays a crucial role in the development and production of FED displays., Nanoscale electron emitters are used to create images on a screen 

These emitters can be based on various materials and structures, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs), nanowires, nanodiamonds, or nanotips. 

Nanotechnology can also improve the performance and functionality of FED displays by enhancing the emission efficiency, stability, uniformity, and scalability of the electron emitters.

Nanotechnology-Based FED Displays

Carbon nanotube FEDs (CNT-FEDs)

Carbon nanotube FEDs (CNT-FEDs), which use CNTs as electron sources. CNTs are nanoscale cylindrical carbon structures that have excellent electrical and mechanical properties. CNT-FEDs can achieve high emission current density and low turn-on voltage compared to conventional FEDs.

Nanowire FEDs (NW-FEDs)

Nanowire FEDs (NW-FEDs), which use nanowires as electron sources. Nanowires are nanoscale wires made of various materials such as metals, semiconductors, or oxides. NW-FEDs can achieve a high aspect ratio and high field enhancement factor compared to conventional FEDs.

Nanodiamond FEDs (ND-FEDs)

Nanodiamond FEDs (ND-FEDs), use nanodiamonds as electron sources. Nanodiamonds are nanoscale diamond particles that have high thermal conductivity and chemical stability. ND-FEDs can achieve high emission stability and low emission noise compared to conventional FEDs.

Nanotip FEDs (NT-FEDs),

Nanotip FEDs (NT-FEDs), use nanotips as electron sources. Nanotips are nanoscale sharp structures that can be fabricated by various methods such as etching, deposition, or lithography. NT-FEDs can achieve high emission uniformity and low emission voltage compared to conventional FEDs.

Nanotechnology and Sustainability

Nanotechnology in display technologies can not only improve the performance and functionality of the devices but also contribute to the sustainability of society and the environment. 

Nanotechnology can help achieve some of the UN SDGs by providing solutions for various challenges such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, health care, education, and innovation.

How Nanotechnology in Display Technologies Can Support the Un SDGs

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Nanotechnology can reduce the energy consumption of display devices by improving their efficiency and reducing their power requirements. For example, OLED displays can consume up to 40% less power than LCDs due to their emissive nature and lower backlight demand. 

E-paper displays can consume almost no power when displaying static images due to their reflective nature and bistable state. FED displays can consume less power than CRT displays due to their lower operating voltage and higher emission efficiency.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Nanotechnology can foster innovation and infrastructure development by enabling new display technologies and applications that can benefit various sectors such as communication, entertainment, education, health care, and transportation. 

For example, transparent OLED displays can enable new forms of AR applications that can enhance user experience and interaction. Flexible OLED displays can enable new forms of wearable devices that can monitor health conditions and provide feedback. 

E-paper displays can enable new forms of digital signage that can provide information and advertisement in a low-cost and eco-friendly way. FED displays can enable new forms of high-resolution monitors that can provide immersive visual quality and performance.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Nanotechnology can support sustainable cities and communities by reducing the environmental impact of display devices and enhancing their recyclability and reusability. 

For example, OLED displays can reduce the use of toxic materials such as mercury or lead that are commonly used in LCD or CRT displays. 

E-paper displays can reduce the use of paper and ink that are commonly used for printing or writing purposes. FED displays can reduce the use of glass or metal which are commonly used for CRT displays.

Other Applications of Nanotechnology in Display Technologies

Besides the three main categories of display technologies discussed above, nanotechnology can also enable other types of display devices that can offer novel functionalities and features. Some examples of these devices are:

Holographic Displays

Holographic displays, which use nanoscale optical elements to create three-dimensional images that can be viewed from different angles without the need for special glasses or headsets. Holographic displays can be used for applications such as entertainment, education, medical imaging, and security.

Plasmonic Displays

Plasmonic displays, use nanoscale metallic structures to manipulate light at the subwavelength scale. Plasmonic displays can achieve high resolution, high contrast, and high color fidelity by exploiting the surface plasmon resonance phenomenon. 

Plasmonic displays can be used for applications such as biosensing, optical computing, and data storage.

Thermochromic Displays

Thermochromic displays, which use nanoscale materials that change color when heated or cooled. Thermochromic displays can provide dynamic and interactive visual feedback by responding to temperature changes. 

Thermochromic displays can be used for applications such as smart textiles, wearable devices, and thermal imaging.


Nanotechnology in display technologies is a rapidly evolving field that offers many opportunities and challenges for researchers, engineers, manufacturers, and users. Nanotechnology can enable more advanced, high-quality, and energy-efficient display devices that can benefit society and the environment in various ways. 

However, nanotechnology also poses some potential risks and uncertainties that need to be addressed carefully and responsibly.

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Lola Aligbe

Lola Aligbe, A Tech Wordsmith, Display Technology Guru, and your ultimate guide to the ever-evolving world of display technology. With her expertise, passion, and concise writing skills, Lola makes complex concepts easy to understand. Trust her accomplished authorship and expertise to keep you up-to-date in this exciting industry!

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