Large Flexible Plastic Sheet Displays

Hewlett-Packard is working on large flexible plastic displays - and their goal is to manufacture them for $10 per square foot. Take a look at this 33-centimeter- wide roll of plastic covered with amorphous-silicon transistor arrays designed to control pixels in displays.


(Plastic-backed flexible display)

Carl Taussig is using high-volume roll-to-roll mechanics, the type of high-speed manufacturing process used in newspaper production, to make high-performance transistor arrays on the 33-centimeter-wide plastic rolls. HP researchers are now engineering a process for a planned pilot plant, where the company will produce the arrays at volumes of about 46,500 square meters a year through a partnership with Phicot, a manufacturer of thin-film electronics based in Ames, IA.

The idea is to combine these transistor arrays with flexible "frontplanes"--the part of a display that creates the images and that the transistors control. "Our goal is to make displays at a cost of $10 per square foot," Taussig says. That's about a 10th the price of today's displays. Silicon-on-plastic displays might be used in laptops, or a few thin sheets might be stuffed into briefcases, replacing printouts and pads of paper. Taussig also imagines "ginormous displays" pasted to walls to show videos and ads.

SF writer E.C. Tubb described this kind of device in his 1958 classic The Mechanical Monarch:

Against one wall a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour. It steadied and a woman stared from the screen. A woman with long dark hair and eyes that were like twin pools of midnight beneath her heavy brows.
(Read more about flexible wall sheet display)

Fans of Vernor Vinge are probably thinking about video wallpaper, as described in his 1999 novel A Deepness in the Sky.

Read details about these displays at Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/25/2010)

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