HP’s Unbreakable Flexible Display

The first affordable, flexible electronic displays were recently revealed by HP and Flexible Display Center (FDC) at the Arizona State University (ASU). Plastic was predominately used to develop these paper-like computer displays, which makes the device portable and more energy efficient than most conventional computer displays. The creation of these high-resolution flexible displays is a milestone for both companies as it represents an opportunity to manufacture for the mass market. The flexible displays were also created in collaboration with DuPont Teijin Films and E Ink.
The Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University (ASU) focused on advancement of full color flexible display technology and flexible display manufacturing to the brink of commercialization. (Credit: The Flexible Display Center, ASU) 
The Flexible Display Center (FDC)
at Arizona State University (ASU)
focused on advancement of full
color flexible display technology
and flexible display manufacturing
to the brink of commercialization.
(Credit The Flexible
Display Center, ASU)

The process of manufacturing the display starts with FDC producing stacks of semiconductor materials and metals on flexible Teonex Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN) substrates from DuPont Teijin Films. Using the patented Self-Aligned Imprint Lithography (SAIL) process, HP patterns the substrates and consequently incorporates EInk’s Vizplex imaging film to result in an actively addressed flexible display on plastic. The Vizplex is a bi-stable electrophoretic imaging film, which allows images to be continuously displayed even when no voltage is applied. This considerably decreases the power consumed by the display.

The SAIL process was invented by HP Labs and was paramount to the displays’ success. The ‘self-aligned’ element in this method is derived from the patterning information, which is imprinted on the substrate in such a way that precise alignment is preserved regardless of process-induced distortion. SAIL technology enables the manufacturing of thin film transistor arrays on a flexible plastic material in a low-cost, roll-to-roll manufacturing process. This permits for a more commercially continuous production, rather than batch sheet-to-sheet production.
 
According to the Director of Information Surfaces at HP Labs, Carl Taussig, “The display HP has created with the FDC proves the technology and demonstrates the remarkable innovation we’re bringing to the rapidly growing display market while providing a lower-cost process. The SAIL technology represents a more sustainable, environmentally sensitive approach to producing electronic displays.”
 
 The unbreakable, flexible display, poised to revolutionize small, flexible electronic information displays. (Credit: The Flexible Display Center, ASU)
The unbreakable, flexible display,
poised to revolutionize small,
flexible electronic information displays.
(Credit: The Flexible Display Center, ASU)

Flexible electronic displays are creating new developments and solutions in the global high-tech industry. The technology provides opportunity for a new generation of portable devices, such as e-readers and similar products, developed to integrate portability with compelling user interfaces. Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst at Small and Medium Displays, iSuppli, expects the flexible display market to grow from $80 million in 2007 to $2.8 billion by 2013. Jakhanwal also adds that the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University (ASU) is a key participant in helping to develop the technology and manufacturing ecosystem to support this market.

 
In collaboration with Hewlett-Packard, the first AM-EPD technology demonstrator on DuPont Teijin Films HS-PEN produced through the HP Self Aligned Imprint Lithography (SAIL) process was fabricated. (Credit: The Flexible Display Center, ASU)
In collaboration with Hewlett-Packard,
the first AM-EPD technology demonstrator
on DuPont Teijin Films HS-PEN produced
through the HP Self Aligned Imprint
Lithography (SAIL) process was fabricated.
(Credit: The Flexible Display Center, ASU)

These flexible electronic displays could be applied to electronic paper and signage.  Mass production could enable the displays to be put to use in notebook computers, smart phones and other electronic devices at a much lower cost than conventional display devices. From an environmental point of view, another major advantage is that these flexible displays use only 10% of materials utilized in current display production: Saving the environment and creating lighter devices for our pockets.

 
 

TFOT recently covered an innovative Carbon Nano-Tube Color A4 E-Paper developed by Samsung Electronics and Unidym. You can also check out our article about Flexible Computers that Conform to Any Shape and imagine what it would be like if your computer looked and worked like a magazine or a piece of paper to be tucked away into your pocket. Computers take on flexible forms we’ve never imagined in our article on Plastic Logic E-Newspaper, where this lightweight plastic screen copies the appearance, but not the feel, of a printed newspaper.

 
Additional information on the flexible display can be obtained at HP’s website. A video of the initial testing of the flexible display can be obtained here.