E Ink Corporation has demonstrated active-matrix display prototypes that have a total display thickness of just 0.3 mm.
According to E Ink, traditional active-matrix display panels are said to measure 2 mm thick and often require a backlight for a combined thickness of 4 mm or more. E Ink’s prototypes are roughly 90% thinner and lighter than glass-based, liquid crystal displays.
Active-matrix displays that are commercially available today are produced with two sheets of thick, fragile glass. Fracture of glass substrates is often reported as the leading cause of field failure of portable devices.
E Ink’s flexible displays are constructed by combining a thin, shatterproof steel foil transistor substrate with E Ink’s paper-like electronic ink display material coated onto a plastic face sheet.
Steel foil was chosen as the transistor backplane material because of its overall performance from initial transistor processing through final display use. The result is the thinnest, lightest and most rugged active-matrix graphical display ever demonstrated.
‘The beauty of this technology is that it is compatible with existing display production technology, cutting years off time-to-market,’ said Dr. Michael McCreary, vice president of Research and Development at E Ink.
Unlike other flexible display or ultra-thin display solutions – using plastic substrates, specially processed glass or organic transistors – E Ink’s backplane technology is based on readily available substrate materials and semiconductor process technologies.
The first display prototype is targeted at card-sized mobile applications such as SmartCards and cell phones. With a 1.6 inch diagonal and 80 pixels per inch (ppi), the display has a resolution of 100 x 80 pixels.
The second display prototype measures 3.0 inches diagonally and is targeted at handheld devices, including PDAs, two-way pagers and communication devices such as mobile display appliances or handheld monitors that are peripheral to cell phones or other wireless ‘servers.’ The resolution of this display is 240 x 160 with 96 ppi.
These display products are expected to reach consumers in 2004-2005.