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HP demonstrates unbreakable flexible active matrix displays

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HP demonstrates unbreakable flexible active matrix displays

Palo Alto (CA) – Hewlett Packard and the Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University (ASU) today demonstrated a prototype of an affordable, flexible electronic display. While the displays are capable of full motion video, their manufacturing process also enables “sticky pixels,” which retain their state even when voltage is removed. HP and ASU believe the displays could be used for electronic paper and signs.

HP said it developed a self-assembly process which patterns the thin film substrate material without traditional lithography. The process is also immune to minor distortions caused by variations in manufacturing due to its natural self-aligning nature. Called SAIL, short for self-aligned imprint lithography, the unbreakable displays use several layers of DuPont’s Teijin Films atop a Polyethylene Naphthalate (PEN) substrate base, also made by DuPont.

These materials, when applied to the SAIL manufacturing process, result in a continuous roll of multi-layer active matrix display source material. While fully active matrix capable of handling full-motion video, the material it also retains properties found in e-paper applications, such as images being retained in static portions of the display after voltage is removed.

HP Labs, the firm’s central research arm, developed the SAIL process in conjunction with research by FDC.

Growing industry

Flexible display technology is believed to be a growing business. Consumers got interested it as movies like Minority Report, and TV shows like Firefly, have shown us future visions of worlds with this kind of paper-like material showing full-motion video and animations – even on cereal boxes.

Vinita Jakhanwal, a principal analyst on small and medium displays from the analyst firm iSuppli, sees tremendous growth in this industry over the next five to six years. He said, “We expect the flexible display market to grow from $80 million in 2007 to $2.8 billion by 2013 [a 35,000% increase]. The FDC at ASU is a key participant in helping to develop the technology and manufacturing ecosystem to support this market.”

HP’s Intellectual Property Licensing Group (HP-IPLG) holds the license to SAIL technology, which can also be applied to other industries for non-traditional imprint lithography. Founded in 2004, ASU’s FDC works in conjunction with both private companies and the government as part of a 10-year charter to advance full-color flexible display technology.