Soon you could plaster your walls and ceilings with illuminated paper – thanks to a new super material that is helping researchers design a new type of low cost and fully recyclable lighting component.

They are developing an alternative to ultra-thin, power-saving organic light diodes (OLEDs), recently introduced in cell phones, cameras, and super-thin TVs.

The alternative is an organic light-emitting electrochemical cell (LEC), which is much cheaper to produce, with the transparent electrode being made of graphene, a carbon material.

An OLED comprises light-generating layer of plastic placed between two electrodes, one of which must be transparent.

But they have two drawbacks. They are relatively expensive to produce, and the transparent electrode consists of the metal alloy indium tin oxide.

The latter presents a problem because indium is both rare and expensive and moreover is complicated to recycle.

“This is a major step forward in the development of organic lighting components, from both a technological and an environmental perspective,” says Nathaniel Robinson, researcher from Link�ping University.

Since all the LEC parts can be produced from liquid solutions, it will also be possible to make LECs in a roll-to-roll process on, for example, a printing press in a highly cost-effective way.

“This paves the way for inexpensive production of entirely plastic-based lighting and display components in the form of large flexible sheets,” says Ludvig Edman from Ume� University, another researcher, according to a release of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“This kind of illumination or display can be rolled up or can be applied as wallpaper or on ceilings,” adds Edman.

These findings were published in ACS Nano.