Human hair throughout history has been recycled for various purposes, but has never before been converted to OLED displays.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia used human hair donated by a local barber shop to experiment with transforming strands of hair into carbon nanodots that can glow enough to use on OLED displays.

The researchers claim that this is the first time that anyone can successfully make luminescent hair strands and use them in a light-emitting device.

According to specialists, human hair is a good source of carbon and nitrogen, which is useful for making light-emitting particles.

Also, the hair is processed and then burned at 240 ° C, leaving a material that has carbon and nitrogen embedded in it.

Finally, the team of researchers converted this material into carbon nanodots that are less than 10 nanometers in diameter.

This OLED device was made with human hair. Image: Queensland University of Technology
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Nanodots are dispersed through a polymer, where they cluster together in what the team calls “nano-islands.” It is these groups that can be used as an active layer on an OLED device.

When a small voltage is applied, these nanodots glow blue. It’s not particularly bright, the team says, but it should still be useful for small-scale displays, such as portable devices.

“Organic carbon dot-based light emitting devices derived from human hair could be used for some indoor applications such as smart packaging,” expressed Prashant Sonar, author of the study.

He added: “They could also be used where a small light source is required, such as on posters or smart bands, and could be used in medical devices due to the non-toxicity of the material.”

The team says that in the future, animal hair from pet salons or even sheep’s wool could be used in similar devices.

The research was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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