Paper-thin flexible video displays

By   |  May 29, 2007

The concept of flexible digital displays is not exactly new but working flexible displays are few and far between. Now it seem Sony has made something of a breakthrough with a working, razor-thin display that bends while simultaneously displaying full-colour video.

AP reports that Sony over the weekend released a video of the new 2.5-inch display. In it, a hand squeezes a display that is 0.3 millimeters, or 0.01 inch, thick. The display shows colour images of a bicyclist stuntman and a picturesque lake.

Although flat-panel TVs are getting slimmer, a display that’s so thin it bends in a human hand marks a breakthrough. Sony said it has yet to decide on commercial products using the technology.

“In the future, it could get wrapped around a lamppost or a person’s wrist, even worn as clothing,” said Sony spokesman Chisato Kitsukawa. “Perhaps it can be put up like wallpaper.”

Tatsuo Mori, an engineering and computer science professor at Nagoya University, said some hurdles remained, including making the display bigger, ensuring durability and cutting costs.

But he said the display’s pliancy is extremely difficult to imitate with liquid crystal displays and plasma display panels – the two main display technologies now on the market.

“To come up with a flexible screen at that image quality is groundbreaking,” Mori said. “You can drop it, and it won’t break because it’s as thin as paper.”

The new display combines two technologies: Sony’s organic thin film transistor, which is required to make flexible displays, and organic electroluminescent display.

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