Monday, October 31, 2005

"DISPLAYS: Flexible displays, e-paper are around the corner"

Next year might be dubbed the year of the flexible, as roll-up displays and digital signage made of electronic paper debut. Ultrathin displays and e-paper took center stage at the Americas Display Engineering and Applications Conference here last week, with researchers reporting progress and predicting a 2006 deployment. Conference goers also heard of advances in LCD technology and in military-grade head-mounted displays. Nick Colaneri, associate director of the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University in Tempe, outlined progress at that Army-funded center for the process development and pilot production of flexible backplanes and displays. Their target technology is organic transistors that can be fabricated at a cool 90°C, as well as other low-temperature formulations. The center will begin qualifying its second-generation TFT pilot line in 2006 and start prototyping with it in 2007. Flexible Display Center member companies are also providing facilities for research on electrophoretic ink for paperlike displays at E-Ink Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.), and on cholesteric liquid crystals for reflective and near-infrared displays at Kent Displays Inc. (Kent, Ohio). Unlike electrophoretic ink, which is monochromatic, cholesteric liquid crystals create full-color reflective displays without filters. SiPix Imaging Inc. (Fremont, Calif.), described progress toward commercial production of the company's full-color e-paper. SiPix's Microcup Electronic Paper is flexible, high-contrast and offers nearly a 180° field-of-view, but also is ultralow in power. Because it needs power only to change a pixel's color, it has zero standby power. Military head-mounted displays were described by Primordial (Saint Paul, Minn.). Its Primordial Soldier heads-up vision system applies tactical overlays, including annotations that label friend from foe on a soldier's HMD, perform automatic threat assessment and provide statistics on vulnerabilities. A revolutionary improvement for LCDs harnessing the human visual system was unveiled by Clairvoyante (Sebastopol, Calif.) The company's PenTile subpixel renderings reduce by one-third the number of pixels needed for a given resolution.