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 New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>