Scientists at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan have developed a flexible display with a unique twist – it can be cut and still retain function.

Common displays like LCD and OEL are utilized in many of the electronic devices we use every day. Due to the fact that they must be sealed, they can’t be modified or cut without causing damage. OELs are susceptible to oxygen, water and other impurities for example, while LCDs utilize liquid to function.

As demand for flexible displays grows (think wearables and the like), being able to cut a display for a custom fit suddenly becomes quite desirable which is where the research comes in.

Led by Masayoshi Higuchi of the Electronic Functional Macromolecules Group, researchers used a polymer with electrochromic properties (organic/metal hybrid polymer) to create a display that can be cut into any shape using ordinary scissors.

Once cut, the display requires just a few seconds of electrical input to adjust to its new shape. The researchers say they’ve even developed a variant that is capable of functioning while detached from a power source and after being cut.

The current prototype can only display images in color although multicolor capabilities will be investigated in future studies, we’re told.

It’s still a long way from production but the technology has tons of potential use scenarios outside of wearables. For example, imagine being able to change the color of your car’s interior or an office building at the press of a button.