Flexible Displays Almost Production-Ready
Displays based on purely organic materials are flexible, extremely light and practically unbreakable. Mass production of the paper-like displays will probably start soon.
Philips and E Ink Corporation presented a fully functional prototype of a display based on purely organic materials already two years ago. According to information from Philips, development has now proceeded to the point where the first end-use products can be produced. In addition to electronic books, maps and newspapers represent possible applications, among many others. The press release from Philips states that mass production of the paper-like displays could already begin in the next two years.
The black-and-white plastic display with the product designation PV-QML5 that was recently shown is 0.3 mm thick, flexible as paper, extremely light and practically unbreakable. It has a diagonal dimension of just under 13 cm and features over 320 x 240 pixels. With four gray scales and a contrast of 10 to 1, viewing is good even in bright daylight. When switched off, it can be rolled up into the size of a fountain pen.
Classical displays use silicon-based electronic components. In contrast, polymer-based displays consist almost entirely of organic materials arranged in two layers. The first layer contains the electronic inks, which are particles of plastic. Extremely small thin-film transistors (TFTs) that activate the white and black components of the ink are located in the second layer. When negatively charged, the plastic particles appear white; when positively charged, black. In this way, exceptionally sharp images are created.
Other mobile applications such as notebooks and mobile phones can also profit from the benefits offered by these new screens. For instance, when not in use, the displays can be rolled up into small holders. Thanks to the low power consumption of the electronic inks, devices can use smaller batteries. This has a positive impact on weight, handling and costs.