Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

LCD paint licked

02.05.2002


Walls and curtains could sport liquid-crystal digital displays.


One layer LCDs could lead to smaller, cheaper, lighter gadgets.
© R. Penterman et al.



Homes of the future could change their wallpaper from cream to cornflower blue at the touch of a button, says Dirk Broer. His team has developed paint-on liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that offer the technology.

Liquid crystals are peculiar liquids: their molecules spontaneously line up, rather than being randomly orientated as in a normal liquid. Passing a voltage across the molecules switches their alignment, blocking the transmission of light so a display changes from light to dark.


Current LCDs on digital watches, mobile phones and laptops sandwich the crystal between heavy glass plates. The complicated production process is time-consuming, expensive and restricts the size of screens to just 1 metre square.

Broer and his colleagues have devised a new open-sandwich technique that instead deposits a layer of liquid crystal onto a single underlying sheet. Working at Eindhoven University of Technology and Philips Research Laboratories in the Netherlands, Broer’s team has already produced prototypes on glass and plastic; fabric could be next.

The technique could create giant TV screens, digital billboards and walls that change colour. Slim, plastic LCDs sewn into fabric could display e-mail or text messages on your sleeve. "It depends what future societies want," says Broer.

The technique should feed people’s thirst for smaller, cheaper gadgets. Conventional glass LCDs now make up an increasing part of a laptop’s weight - plastic versions could change that, says Peter Raynes, who studies LCD technology at the University of Oxford, UK.

Crystal glazing

Broer’s team made the LCD paint by mixing liquid crystal with molecules that link together into a rigid polymer when exposed to ultraviolet. In a two-stage process they effectively build tiny boxes holding the liquid1.

They coat a glass or plastic base with a thin layer of the LCD paint and mask out squares so that a blast of ultraviolet forms a grid of walls. When they remove the mask, a second exposure - at a wavelength that does not penetrate the whole liquid layer - seals over the boxes with a lid.

Standard LCDs, which are divided up into pixels, turn dark when a voltage crosses between electrodes on the two glass plates. The new displays instead pass voltage between two points on the same plate. Colour LCDs fit each pixel with red, green and blue colour filters.

"Don’t expect to buy a watch featuring one of the new displays in the next six months," warns Raynes, however. He cautions that the technique needs work: compared with glass, the thin outer layer may be more easily penetrated by oxygen or water that degrade the crystal.

References

  1. Penterman, R. et al. Single-substrate liquid-crystal displays by photo-enforced stratification. Nature, 417, 55 - 58, (2002).


HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Breaking bad metals with neutrons
16.01.2018 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional
16.01.2018 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>