This is just crazy: a team of scientists from the University of Washington have created an LED (light-emitting diode) that’s only 3 atoms thick. The light emitted can be picked up by standard light-measuring equipment, too.
LEDs are basically semiconductors, but they also happen to emit light when a current flows (hence why they’re really handy for status/power indicator lights on all your gadgets). The diode bit comes as a result of that semiconductor setup: in order for a current to flow through the LED, the current must be greater than a threshold level. Below this level, the diode is super-resistant to current; above it, it conducts easily, which is why it’s called a “semi” conductor.
What’s so crazy about this is the ridiculously tiny scale. As James Ross, one of the scientists who helped with the research, says: “[The diode is] 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair”. Not only that, but they’re so thin that they’re not even considered to be three-dimensional objects; and even on top of that, they’re flexible and strong too.
So science has basically invented the world’s thinnest diode: we just need gadget companies to step up and make the world’s thinnest screens. Sorted!