April 20, 2006 The end of the lightbulb is nigh! Scientists studying organic light-emitting devices (OLEDs) have made a critical leap from single-color displays to a highly efficient and long-lived natural light source. The invention is the latest fruit of a 13-year OLED research program led by Mark Thompson, professor of chemistry at USC
and Stephen Forrest of the University of Michigan
. If the device can be mass-manufactured cheaply - a realistic expectation, according to Thompson - interior lighting could look vastly different in the future. Almost any surface in a home, whether flat or curved, could become a light source: walls, curtains, ceilings, cabinets or tables. Since OLEDs are transparent when turned off, the devices could even be installed as windows or skylights to mimic the feel of natural light after dark - or to serve as the ultimate inconspicuous flat-panel television. This is potentially a disruptive technology and could significantly change the way we interact with our homes.