Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A paperlike LCD -- thin, flexible, tough and cheap

29.03.2018

Less than half a millimeter thick, the new flexi-LCD design could revolutionize printed media.

Optoelectronic engineers in China and Hong Kong have manufactured a special type of liquid crystal display (LCD) that is paper-thin, flexible, light and tough. With this, a daily newspaper could be uploaded onto a flexible paperlike display that could be updated as fast as the news cycles.


This is a combined flexible blue optically rewritable LCD.

Credit: Zhang et al.

It sounds like something from the future, but scientists estimate it will be cheap to produce, perhaps only costing $5 for a 5-inch screen. The new optically rewritable LCD design was reported this week in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.

The team focused on two key innovations for achieving highly flexible designs. The first is the recent development of optically rewritable LCDs. Like conventional LCD displays, the display is structured like a sandwich, with a liquid crystal filling between two plates.

Unlike conventional liquid crystals where electrical connections on the plates create the fields required to switch individual pixels from light to dark, optically rewritable LCDs coat the plates with special molecules that realign in the presence of polarized light and switch the pixels.

This removes the need for traditional electrodes, reduces the structure's bulk and allows more choices in the type and thickness of plates. Consequently, optically rewritable LCDs are thinner than traditional LCDs, at less than half a millimeter thick, can be made from flexible plastic, and weigh only a few grams. "It's only a little thicker than paper," said Jiatong Sun, a co-author from Donghua University in China.

Optically rewritable LCDs are durable and cheap to manufacture because of their simple structure. Moreover, like an electronic paper screen in an e-book, energy is only required to switch display images or text. Therefore, running costs are low because these new LCDs don't need power to sustain an image once it is written on the screen.

The second innovation involves the spacers that create the separation of the plastic or glass plates. "We put spacers between glass layers to keep the liquid crystal layer uniform," Sun said. Spacers are used in all LCDs to determine the thickness of the liquid crystal. A constant thickness is necessary for good contrast ratio, response time and viewing angle.

However, when plates bend, it forces the liquid crystal away from the impact site and leaves sections of the screen blank and so alterations in spacer design are critical to prevent liquid crystal in flexible LCDs from moving excessively. Developing a flexible design that overcomes this barrier has proven challenging.

The researchers tried three different spacer designs and found that a meshlike spacer prevented liquid crystal from flowing when their LCD was bent or hit. This innovation enabled them to create the first flexible optically rewritable LCD.

An additional innovation involved improved color rendering. The scientists report that until this study, optically rewritable LCDs had only been able to display two colors at a time. Now, their optically rewritable LCD simultaneously displays the three primary colors. They achieved this by placing a special type of liquid crystal behind the LCD, which reflected red, blue and green. To make this into a commercial product, Sun wants to improve the resolution of the flexible optically rewritable LCD.

"Now we have three colours but for full colour we need to make the pixels too small for human eyes to see," Sun said.

###

The article, "A flexible optically re-writable color liquid crystal display," is authored by Yihong Zhang, Jiatong Sun, Yang Liu, Jianhua Shang, Hao Liu, Huashan Liu, Xiaohui Gong, Vladimir Chigrinov and Hoi Sing Kwok. The article appeared in Applied Physics Letters March 27, 2018 (DOI: 10.1063/1.5021619) and can be accessed at http://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.5021619.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See http://apl.aip.org.

Media Contact

Julia Majors
media@aip.org
301-209-3090

 @AIPPhysicsNews

http://www.aip.org 

Julia Majors | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Computer model predicts how fracturing metallic glass releases energy at the atomic level
20.07.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>