The use of brittle materials in flexible displays requires the understanding of the mechanical limitations of the materials and the various display architectures. We discuss various approaches to mechanical bend tests for components of flexible displays and describe a new test method based on a three-axis motion. We discuss the mechanical limitations of indium tin oxide (ITO) as a transparent conductor, and present results for a more mechanically robust multilayer transparent conductor made of an ITO-metal-ITO (IMI) stack. The IMI structures showed dramatically improved mechanical properties when subjected to bending both as a function of radius of curvature as well as number of cycles to a fixed radius. Organic light emitting devices fabricated on IMI anodes showed improved performance compared with those made on ITO anodes at current densities greater than 1 mA/cm2 due to the improved conductivity of the anode. We discuss the difficulties in analysis of the mechanical failure of transparent thin film permeation barriers. We present a novel approach for etching barrier-coated polymer substrates such that film cracking is readily visible. We report on the bend test results for sputter- deposited SiOxNy films.
Mechanical performance of thin films in flexible displays