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  • Project Aims for Unbreakable Displays

Photonics.com
Sep 2013
STUTTGART, Germany, Sept. 5, 2013 — Displays for smartphones and tablets will not only be flexible, but unbreakable and lighter-weight if a European consortium meets its goals.

The LiCRA research consortium, led by the Institute of Large Area Microelectronics at the University of Stuttgart, is working with national and international industry partners to develop robust but extremely lightweight displays using flexible plastic foils instead of glass substrates. Curved displays for automotive or advertising applications need to have some flexibility, while the market for rugged displays continues to grow.


Flexible monochrome e-paper display from Plastic Logic. Courtesy of Plastic Logic. 

The two-and-a-half-year project is funded by €1.5 million (about $1.98 million) from the German federal ministry of science and education, as well as the national funding agencies of international partners.

Working with Cambridge, England-based Plastic Logic, Stuttgart will develop a process flow for assembling liquid crystal cells on plastic. Plastic Logic will advance and adapt its organic thin-film transistor technology, currently used for monochrome e-paper displays, while Stuttgart scientists will develop the process for mounting the liquid crystal cells. The flexibility of the substrates and the need for the technology to work at low temperatures are a couple of the challenges they face.

Stuttgart will also investigate the production of OLEDs with polarized light emission. The use of such OLEDs would eliminate the need for an additional backlight and for one of the two polarizer sheets required by liquid crystal cells.

Israel-based partner Eli Etkes Sons Ltd. will develop a backlight unit for the display, while LOFO High Tech Film GmbH of Germany will develop the plastic films. micro resist technology GmbH of Berlin will develop materials and processes for nanoimprint lithography, which will reduce production costs of the display and increase its resolution. Also involved in the project is Darmstadt, Germany-based pharmaceutical, chemical and life sciences company Merck KGaA.

For more information, visit: www.uni-stuttgart.de


GLOSSARY
liquid crystal
A type of material that possesses less geometrical regularity or order than normal solid crystals, and whose order varies in response to alterations in temperature and other quantities. Liquid crystals are characterized by phase varieties, including cholesteric, nematic and smectic. The optical properties of liquid crystals are familiar from their use in displays, known as LCDs.
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