Application of flexible OLED display technology for electro-optical stimulation and/or silencing of neural activity

Joseph T. Smith, Barry O'Brien, Yong Kyun Lee, Edward J. Bawolek, Jennifer Blain Christen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This paper presents a new biophotonic application for large-area, high-resolution, flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology currently used to manufacture low-cost color flexible displays on plastic substrates. The new concept uses a fully addressable high resolution flexible OLED pixel array on a thin, mechanically compliant biocompatible plastic substrate to selectively stimulate and/or silence small groups of neurons on either the cortical surface or, alternatively, within the deep brain. Optical measurements from a 455 nm blue flexible OLED test structure demonstrated the ability to emit 1 mW/mm2 of instantaneous light intensity using a 13 V, 20 Hz pulse, which meets the minimum reported intensity at $sim450 nm to induce optical stimulation in genetically modified neural tissue. Biocompatibility was successfully demonstrated by the ability to grow human epithelial cells on the surface of a full TFT process flow plastic flexible display substrate. Additionally, a new active matrix array display architecture was designed to support pulsed mode OLED operation. These preliminary results demonstrate the initial viability of extending flexible plastic substrate OLED display technology to the development of large-area, high-resolution emissive active matrix arrays for chronic optogenetic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6748913
Pages (from-to)514-520
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE/OSA Journal of Display Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Flexible electronics
  • optogenetics
  • organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs)
  • thin-film transistors (TFTs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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