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U.S. Army invests in flexible electronics R&D

Posted: 03 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:U.S. army investment? R&D? flexible display electronics?

The U.S. Army has committed to sponsor an additional five years of R&D at Arizona State University's (ASU) Flexible Display Center. The five-year renewal, agreed upon in 2008, is for $50 million and follows initial funding of the center in 2004. Taken together, the two five-year commitments represent a total investment of nearly $100 million in this component of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's research portfolio.

The Flexible Display Center is a collaboration among government, industry and academia designed to advance the development of full-color flexible display technology. The U.S. Army's continued commitment follows a rigorous evaluation of Flexible Display Center activities and progress during its first five years of operation, with a thorough assessment of the Center's future plans. The review included an evaluation by leading technology experts assembled at the invitation of the Army.

Army officials say the Flexible Display Center represents a critical resource in the Army's ongoing effort to provide military members with the highest level of technology assets. Since the Army's initial support in 2004, officials say they have been consistently impressed with the Center's track record in achieving critical development milestones. They expect that over the next five years, the Center will expand its portfolio beyond strictly informational displays and will extend its role as a national asset in flexible electronics R&D.

Over the past five years, the Flexible Display Center has established a strong set of core capabilities to support flexible display development, including six-inch wafer-scale and GEN II 370mm x 470mm display-scale manufacturing pilot lines and related toolsets. Through its collaboration programs, the center has achieved development and demonstration milestones that incorporate a broad range of advanced materials and processes necessary to accelerate the commercialization of flexible displays.

"As an early adopter of advanced technologies, the Army recognized the importance of developing revolutionary information displays and had the foresight to commit to fostering a sustainable ecosystem that could successfully develop and commercialize flexible electronic displays," said Nick Colaneri, director of the Flexible Display Center. "The Army's long-term commitment to this initiative not only recognizes the important role that the center plays within this developing market but, more critically, allows us to accelerate the application development and commercialization process."

In addition to the U.S. Army, the Flexible Display Center partners with many of the world's leading and emerging industry providers of advanced display technology, materials and process equipment, and product integrators such as HP, General Dynamics, Raytheon, BAE Systems, L3 Communications, Boeing, LG Display, E Ink, Applied Materials AKT, Ito America, EV Group, DuPont Teijin Films, Honeywell, Universal Display Corp., Kent Displays and Plextronics, Etched In Time, Surface Science Integration and Particle Measuring Systems. A key founding partner in the center is the FlexTech Alliance, an industry association focused on the manufacturing and distribution chain of flexible, printed electronics and displays. Also, the Flexible Display Center collaborates with renowned universities such as University of Texas at Dallas and Lehigh University on basic materials research projects.

Flexible electronic displays are playing an increasingly important role in the global high-tech industry, serving as the crucial enabling technology for a new generation of portable devices including e-readers and similar products designed to combine mobility with compelling user interfaces. According to a recent iSuppli report, the flexible display market is expected to grow from $80 million in 2007 to $2.8 billion by 2013.

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