Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Europe takes the pole position in flexible display market

12.06.2008
Flexible electronic display technology developed by European researchers has allowed companies on the continent to make inroads in a market dominated by Asian firms.

While Asian firms currently dominate the overall display screen market, Europe is now a leader in the production of flexible electronic displays segment, thanks to a project that brought together manufacturers such as Philips, Thales and Nokia with the continent’s leading academic researchers.

There are only four factories in the world capable of producing flexible displays. The European consortium developing the flexible electronic displays has already introduced the technologies into factories in the UK, Germany, France and Taiwan.

Flexible displays, a long sought-after innovation, can be shaped to fit curved surfaces. They can even be flexed and rolled up like a magazine. The key is to replace the usual glass display backing with plastic.

Partners in FlexiDis have commercialised three new processes for doing just that.

“You could introduce a flexible display into the market to battle against the existing flat panel display on glass and all of its applications,” says Dr Eliav Haskal, of Philips Research, which is coordinating the project. “Alternatively you could introduce a flexible display into a market which doesn’t yet exist because conventional display technologies cannot provide the solution. This second route is the one that’s going to be first on the market.”

Flexible e-readers

Pioneering this new approach is Polymer Vision, a spin-off from Philips. In cooperation with telecom Italia Mobile the company is producing a device called Readius, which is about the size of a mobile phone and has an ‘e-paper’ display that unrolls to reveal a five-inch screen.

Readius can be used for e-books and also for emails. It is being produced in a factory in Southampton. This will be the world’s first product to use a flexible active matrix display.

Another company, Plastic Logic, is setting up a factory in Dresden to produce more than a million flexible displays every year. Plastic Logic was spun out of Cambridge University in 2000 as a commercial entity.

“They have focused on making a large A4-sized flexible e-reader device less than half a millimetre thick, which you can use as a robust replacement for reading information on a lap-top,” says Dr Haskal.

Thales Avionics LCD, near Grenoble, runs the only factory in Europe making displays based on liquid crystal devices (LCDs), mainly for the demanding avionics sector. The company has been running trials with a FlexiDis technology called EPLaR, in which plastic displays are manufactured on glass sheets allowing them to be made in factories set up for rigid LCD panels.

Full-colour displays

“Thales Avionics LCD will work further with this technology because it gives them a leg-up on the competition,” says Dr Haskal. “They’re going to keep working on niche products which have high added values so that they don’t need the economies of scale.”

In due course the Thales factory will be able to produce full-colour displays based on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).

Thales is also going to take part in a new EU-funded research project called Amazoled, which is being set up to advance the technology further using OLEDs manufactured in the company’s factory.

Europe has no factories capable of producing the large LCD panels being manufactured in Asia and it does not make any sense to try and compete. So some of the technologies developed by the FlexiDis team have been licensed to Prime View International, a Taiwanese company that will produce flexible displays for the mass consumer market.

So far there is little commercial competition either from Asia or the USA. The American government has invested $43.7 million in a five-year project to develop flexible displays for use by the US army, to the extent of taking over a former Motorola factory in Arizona. The work will start with a focus on military applications.

“They’ve done a nice job but realistically that isn’t a production facility but rather a really big R&D facility,” says Dr Haskal.

Creative applications

The market for flexible displays is estimated to run to hundreds of millions of euros over the next five years and there is no shortage of ideas for new products.

Apart from e-readers – and the Chinese authorities are discussing the use of such devices on a large scale in schools – other early applications are likely to include ‘point of purchase’ signs on shelves or clothing racks in shopping outlets. French retailer Carrefour is already using glass LCD displays for price indicators but these have been found to be vulnerable to damage from shopping trolleys.

Another use will be in the smart card market. Electronic tickets used on public transport systems could incorporate a flexible display that shows the remaining value on the card. Credit cards could have a display that shows a one-time code to be used to authenticate secure transactions.

"Europe can succeed in this market when it plays to its strengths," says Dr Haskal.

“We’re not good at economy of scale, high-investment factories and enormous production efforts,” he says. “We’re good at design, at creating novel applications and putting a display in a place that we never thought of before - a rollable display, an e-reader display with new functionality or a curved display in the sleeve of a jacket. One of our partners in FlexiDis has put a display in a snowboard. That’s pretty niche, if you ask me. Each one of these new ideas can generate a business.”

FlexiDis received funding from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89785

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>