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Electronic paper hits size milestone

27 Oct 2005

E Ink unveils 10-inch monochrome and 6-inch color electronic paper at FPD 2005 in Japan.

A flexible electronic paper display that is 10.1-inches in diagonal -- the largest demonstration to date -- was unveiled at the FPD International 2005 show in Japan last week.

The monochrome display is less than 300 microns thick and has a resolution of 600x800 pixels (SVGA), equivalent to 100 pixels per inch. It was developed by the US firm E Ink and the Korean LCD specialist LG Philips LCD.

It was manufactured at one of LG Philips’ pilot lines for producing thin-film transistors (TFTs) in Korea and boasts a contrast ratio of 10:1 and 4 levels of greyscale.

The big benefit of the display is that it can be bent or rolled up like paper and can hold a static image without consuming any electrical power (see related story). Potential applications include a large roll-up screen for use with PDAs, cellphones or GPS devices and electronic signage.

E Ink has previously demonstrated smaller versions that are just few inches in size and these are now being used in commercial devices such as an electronic book (Sony), clocks (Citizen) and watches (Seiko).

“They [flexible displays] are 80% thinner and lighter than glass displays, and they do not break like glass displays,” said Russ Wilcox, CEO of E Ink. “You can roll them up and put them in your pocket. You can curve them around a cellphone or you can throw them in your briefcase like a newspaper.”

E Ink has also made a smaller 6-inch version that has 12-bit color and a resolution of 400x300 pixels. To make the full-color version E Ink added a filter supplied by Toppan Printing of Japan.

Mass production of this display is expected to commence at the end of 2006 for use in PDAs and other portable electronic goods. It allegedly consumes about 1% of the energy of a standard LCD thus allowing a big improvement in device battery life.

•  On a related note, ZBD Displays of the UK has started trials of its electronic display labels at the retail store Peter Jones in London. Designed as a smart alternative to paper price tags, the electronic labels can be remotely updated and consume no power when displaying a static image. The labels are based on bistable LCD technology developed at the defense agency QinetiQ.

Author

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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