Flexible displays

US researchers have collaborated to develop what they claim is the first prototype of an affordable, flexible electronic display.

Researchers at HP, working with colleagues at the Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University (ASU), have developed prototypes of affordable, flexible electronic displays.

Mass production of such displays could enable the production of notebook computers, smartphones and other electronic devices at much lower costs since the display is one of the more costly components.

What is more, from an environmental standpoint, the displays use up to 90 per cent fewer materials by volume than conventional displays.

The unbreakable displays were created by the FDC and HP using self-aligned imprint lithography (SAIL) technology invented in HP Labs, HP’s central research arm.

SAIL technology enables the fabrication of thin film transistor arrays on a flexible plastic material in a low-cost, roll-to-roll manufacturing process.

This allows for more cost-effective continuous production, rather than batch sheet-to-sheet production.

SAIL is considered ‘self-aligned’ because the patterning information is imprinted on the substrate in such a way that perfect alignment is maintained regardless of process-induced distortion.

The first demonstration of the flexible displays was achieved through collaborative efforts between the FDC and HP as well as other FDC partners including DuPont Teijin Films and E Ink.

To create the display, the FDC produces stacks of semiconductor materials and metals on flexible Teonex Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN) substrates from DuPont Teijin Films.

HP then patterns the substrates using the SAIL process and subsequently integrates E Ink’s Vizplex imaging film to produce an actively addressed flexible display on plastic.

E Ink’s Vizplex bi-stable electrophoretic imaging film enables images to persist without applied voltage, thereby greatly reducing power consumption for viewing text.