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ITRI says rollable displays available by 2015

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:rollable displays? smart phone? tablet?

Rollable color displays will enable a new class of mobile products by 2015, according to Janglin Chen, general director of the display technology center, Industrial Technology Research Institute. ITRI's flexible display beat more than 590 submissions to win a gold innovation award sponsored by Dow Jones.

Researchers are still looking for a mechanism that would make it possible for the display to be rolled out of a smart phone- or tablet-sized display. Flexible displays that are available now cannot be rolled so tightly or often without damaging the materials.

"For bending, we can do this 15,000 times in the lab without deterioration of the screen's performance, but to make a device that's rollable by consumers who are more abusive requires a more sturdy design," remarked Chen, who demonstrates a prototype in a video interview.

ITRI has licensed its technology to AU Optronics which is preparing to make displays that will appear in e-readers from BenQ in 2011. The displays will be built in an existing Generation 3.5 LCD fab.

The technology uses a plastic material that can withstand the high temperatures of TFT LCD processes. The approach requires two new manufacturing steps: coating at the beginning and a de-bonding at the end. Competing approaches from companies such as Polymer Vision and Plastic Logic use an organic material that requires low temperature manufacturing techniques, said Chen.

ITRI has also licensed technology to an equipment maker who is creating the manufacturing equipment.

ITRI's displays have the same color and contrast capabilities as similar sized conventional TFT LCDs.

"This opens up the mindset for the designer for new kinds of toys, medical sensors or other products," said Chen. Engineers could use the technology to develop electronic displays that mimic the features of paper. For example, designers could build a portable x-ray display that could be wrapped around an arm or leg, he said.

ITRI is also working on versions of its current bendable technology for OLED displays and touch screens. Researchers are working with AU Optronics to find a plastic material that could protect OLEDs from oxygen and moisture. Separately, ITRI is also working with a touchscreen technology provider on a touchscreen version of the TFT LCD flexible display with products expected in one to two years.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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