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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 19:14 GMT
Quality leap for e-paper developers
Prototype flexible display, Philips Research
Not just black and white but 256 shades of grey
This five-centimetre-square (two inches) electronic display represents a leap in quality and brings affordable electronic paper a step closer, say its developers, Philips Research.

The tiny display uses active matrix technology, the kind used in good quality laptop computer displays.

But this display is made of parts that use flexible plastic instead of silicon and should be cheap to make in bulk, Philips Research spokesman Koen Joosse told BBC News Online.

"In principle, this could be a low-cost solution because these polymers can be made from a solution. You don't need expensive vacuum chambers to deposit the layers," he said.

Bigger versions

Cost is not the only factor for researchers trying to produce affordable electronic paper.

Viable e-paper would need to use very little power, come in large enough sheets to be useful, offer high contrast so that images are visible under varying lighting conditions, and be durable enough to withstand regular use.

The Philips prototype, described by Edzer Huitema and colleagues in the journal Nature, has the required high contrast and low-power consumption.

Philips Research was now working on gradually scaling up the size of the display, Mr Joosse said.

It also needs to put the display on a flexible backing layer. Despite being made from flexible components, the prototype is still on a solid glass backing.

"We don't expect any major hurdles," said Mr Joosse.

See also:

23 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
E-paper moves a step nearer
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