Saturday January 31, 2004

"Roll 'em" gets a new meaning!

The future of e-paper and rollable displays gets closer.

In a major step toward electronic paper that works like a computer monitor yet feels and behaves like a page of a book, researchers in the Netherlands have made electronic-ink displays on flexible plastic sheets.

A U.S. company developed the electronic ink over the past several years. "Just like your newspaper, you can see it in bright light, dim light, or from all angles," says Michael McCreary of E Ink in Cambridge, Mass.

The ink consists of millions of microcapsules, each one containing white and black pigments of opposite charge. When a certain voltage is applied, the white pigments rise to the surface and the black ones descend out of sight. An opposite voltage leads to black pigments on top. Each pixel in the display is controlled by its own silicon-based transistor.
The result: a display that a person can bend, roll, and even drop without fear of breaking it.
"This is a significant step toward display systems on plastic," says electrical engineer Ananth Dodabalapur of the University of Texas at Austin.

In a show of muscle, the Philips group has produced displays with close to 80,000 pixels, which the researchers claim are the largest and thinnest polymer electronics-based displays fabricated to date.
One ... product could be a display that rolls into a pen and can be carried around in a shirt pocket.

[cf. Flexible E-Paper: Plastic circuits drive paperlike displays, Science News, Week of Jan 31, 2004.

Oh, yeah!

The February 2004 issue of Scientific American also has a piece on flat displays, in this case it's the cover article. The article discusses OLEDs, organic light-emitting diodes. The substrates can be flexible plastic or even metal foil.

In the coming years, large-screen televisions and computer monitors coould roll up for storage. A soldier might unfurl a sheet of plastic showing a real-time simulation map. Smaller displays could be strapped around a person't forearm or incorporated into clothing. Used in lighting fixture, the panels could curl around an architectural column or lie almost wallpaperlike against a wall or ceiling.

[cf. Webster Howerd, "Better Displays with Organic Films", Scientific American, February 2004, pp 76 - 81. ]

Methinks Dr. Howard is an avid reader of Science Fiction. Still... his bio says he was led the development of OLED-based microdisplays as CTO of eMagin and was also awarded a prize from the Society for Information Display in 2003 for his contributions to flat-panel display technology. So, he does understand the possibilities.

Those possibilities seem mind-boggling. According to a side-bar in the Scientific American article, nearly 100 manufacturers are working at developing applications for OLEDs, including wearable computers, TV and computer screens, digital cameras, cellular phones, and (!!) an electric razor (Philips). The razor is listed as 'on the market" (Question: what does a razor need a screen for?)

Wow! Maybe we still can't bend or fold it, but it looks like the future will roll.

"Roll 'em" gets a new meaning! ( in category Science/Tech ) - posted by Vicki at Sat, 31 Jan, 14:35 Pacific | «e»

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