Foldable, rollable electronic displays just got a little closer to reality

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A team working at the University of Cincinnati’s Novel Devices Laboratory have this week published research detailing an advance that could bring us closer to rollable or foldable electronic devices.

The paper, titled Bright e-Paper by Transport of Ink through a White Electrofluidic Imaging Film, has confirmed that a rollable screen is a viable technology, involving a thin sheet of film that is coated with a layer of reflective electrodes and spacers. This is subjected to fluid mechanics that transport the substances that make up e-ink displays to generate an image.

Matthew Hagedon, one of the doctoral students working on the project, said “This is the first of any type of electrowetting display that can be made as a simple film that you laminate onto a sheet of controlling electronics. Manufacturers prefer this approach compared to having to build up the pixels themselves within their devices, layer by layer, material by material. Our proof-of-concept breakthrough takes us one step closer to brighter, color-video e-Paper and the Holy Grail of rollable/foldable displays.”

The development is also notable in that it does away with pixel borders, a feature which prevents pixels from bleeding into each other. Associate professor of electronic and computing systems at the University of Cincinnati Jason Heikenfeld said ” For example, the pixel border in current electrowetting displays, which prevents ink merging, takes up a sizable portion of the pixel. This is now resolved with our electrofluidic film breakthrough. Furthermore, our breakthrough provides extraordinary capability to hide the ink when you don’t want to see it, which further cranks up the available brightness and color of the display when you do want to see it. With a single, new technology, we have simplified manufacturability AND improved screen brightness”

The first foldable devices are expected to be monochrome, with magazine quality displays showing up some time in the next ten to twenty years. The current development is a step along that pathway, being a part of a larger project that uses low-power and ambient light to produce content on a display.

Source: Science Daily

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