Making a display

A new display technology developed by researchers at Strathclyde University can be used for advertising and display boards.

A reflective liquid crystal display (LCD) developed by researchers at Strathclyde University is flexible and extremely tough, making it particularly suited for use in large-screen advertising boards.

A standard roll-to-roll printing process, a technique never used in LCD manufacturing before, can be deployed to fabricate the low-cost display technology, which can maintain static images in full daylight.

The prototype LCD system developed by the researchers so far is bistable, which means it requires power only to change the image being displayed and so has a marked advantage in energy efficiency over more conventional electronic displays.

Prof Nigel Mottram, of Strathclyde’s Department of Mathematics, said: ‘This is a significant breakthrough which not only opens up all kinds of possibilities for LCD displays but could also have considerable environmental and energy efficiency benefits.

‘As well as being bistable, the displays are highly reflective, meaning that they are easier to read in direct sunlight and don’t need the large backlight which consumes much of the power of a traditional electronic display.’

The novel construction technique used in the new Strathclyde display replaces the continuous layer of liquid crystal found in a traditional device with a polymer substructure which can confine the liquid crystal into discrete wells.

Multi-stable states are created in the liquid crystal by the shape and surface properties of the polymer and the presence of high-distortion regions. In-plane electrodes can be used to switch between these states.

The researchers are now seeking one or more partners, particularly with expertise in interdigitive electrodes, to help take the technology to market.