New display is paper thin

Canon has demonstrated a prototype digital display that is only slightly thicker than a sheet of paper. The technology, dubbed Paper-Like Display, is hoped to become a major component of future electronic books, newspapers and advertising media.

The new display, based on electrophoretic phenomena, has several advantages over existing LCDs. The biggest difference is that the display is just 0.25mm, which is 2.5 times the thickness of a regular sheet of paper. This is due to the toner used in the display being sandwiched between two sheets of plastic film.

This differs from LCD, which contains liquid crystal trapped between two sheets of glass.

The display works by using electrostatic absorption and repulsion on toner sealed between the plastic sheets to form images and text on the display.

This technology brings with it the second big difference between the new display and conventional LCD displays in that the images remain on the display even when the power is turned off.

This means power only needs to be applied to the display when images are being drawn, and so total power consumption is low.

The prototype display shown by Canon on Wednesday, November 22 is still in the early stages of development although the company hopes the first commercial products might be on the market by late 2001.

Those displays are likely to be relatively low resolution and monochrome, although engineers are now working toward colour versions with a resolution of 200 dpi. Canon expects they might hit the market in 2007.