Breakthrough digital display technology from the University of Cambridge

In 1989 fundamental research at the University of Cambridge led to the unexpected discovery that luminescence could be generated by conducting electricity through plastic polymers. According to Professor Friend, the lead investigator, the research was conducted out of "pure curiosty", but it has led to a major commercial breakthrough and two successful spin-out companies.

Founded in 1992, Cambridge Display Technology is now the leading global manufacturer of technologies based on Polymer Light Emitting Diodes (PLEDs). Very efficient, and able to form ultra-thin lighting displays which operate at very low voltages, PLEDs are set to underpin the next generation of lighting displays and open up exciting new possibilities such as flexible or even wearable displays. CDT Ltd has so far raised over $170m through investments and sale of stock.

Plastic Logic Ltd has developed a revolutionary process for printing electronic circuits on flexible plastic bases, to create light, flexible and robust electronic displays for electronic reading devices. The company currently employs a staff of 90, and has so far raised over $200m from venture capital funding in Europe, Asia and the US. one report described the company as “the university spin-out company with perhaps the greatest chance of achieving a multi-billion pound valuation”.

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