HP Laboratories in Bristol has developed a prototype of a display that is bistable, colour, plastic and made by imprinting and lamination processes that eliminate the expensive vacuum deposition and photolithography used to make today’s flat panels.
The 3cm x 4cm, 128 x 96 x RGB prototype liquid crystal display can display 125 colours. But unlike most of today’s LCDs that have an active matrix, the prototype HP Labs display uses a bistable passive matrix, meaning that it does not need a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) embedded in each pixel to keep it turned on between periodic updates. Instead, the pixel stays on or off without this help, remembering its state for as long as required.
And that helps with manufacturing too. Because it is difficult to make good TFTs on plastic, eliminating them avoids the cost associated with the complex manufacturing processes that would be involved otherwise.
The technologies used to create the prototype are at an early stage according to HP, but are designed to scale to paper-like resolutions over large areas so that future products can affordably deliver full-colour, print quality from a low-cost printed display.
Once commercialised, the the display will be targeted at applications such as electronic books and magazines and digital posters and photographs, rather than video displays such as TVs and computer monitors.