As display technologies evolve display panels are finding their way into many new places, this is about to accelerate. R&D scientists from Taiwan have demonstrated a new display technology that completely cuts the cord, the i2R e-paper has no plug. A display that doesn’t have a clue what electricity is. The flexible panel uses heat instead of electricity to erase and write images to the display.
Created in the R&D labs at Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute – ITRI – this may be the technology that allows displays to be everywhere. The i2R e-Paper is already winning awards for ITRI, having once again won a place on the R&D 100 Awards, the Oscars of invention.
“This year ITRI was again honored with the R&D 100 Awards for its rewritable electronic paper i2R e-Paper. This is a special green energy conserving display technology.” John Chen, general director of ITRI’s Display Technology Center.
By using existing manufacturing technologies, thin-film plastic rolls, combined with the incredibly simplified design ITRI has kept the costs of i2R e-paper low, estimates suggest each finished sheet of e-paper can be produced for as little as $1.50 per sheet. Even compared to tradition electric e-paper -as found in the Kindle- this is incredibly cheap. Removing the electrical requirements simplified the display immensely, no wires or circuits, no electronics to control the display all keeping the costs down.
With the display being so simplified an external thermal writing device is required to do what the chips would have done, write and erase images on the display. The writer is extremely low power which should make portable writers possible.
i2R e-paper’s technology is based on a modified version of Cholesteric Liquid Crystals –ChLCD– display, a variation on the classic LCD panel. ChLCD is one of the promising future display materials with a hardy flexible nature, ability to maintain the image without power, 300dpi high-resolution and color. While i2R e-paper is not available yet ITRI is working with manufacturers to bring the technology to market. ITRI and Changchun Chemical Engineering are preparing a trial mass production of the plastic sheets.
One of the largest costs for deploying information displays is the infrastructure, power and data cables, internet / communications all add to the cost of installing even a simple information display. By cutting the cord and simplifying how the display works all of those costs disappear. While the i2R e-paper won’t replace today’s touch screen LCD’s for moving interactive images but it will open up new markets, giving advertisers new tools to annoy all equally. Applications such as street signs that can be re-programmed, billboards, badges, labels, situational wall papers and new undreamed of advertising opportunities are all possible.
ITRI ‘the pride of Taiwan’ is a power house of technology invention. Central to Taiwan’s electronics industry ITRI has extensive R&D facilities and plays the important role of facilitator, bringing together manufacturing companies to shift inventions from R&D to product. ITRI is a non-profit organization first established in 1973 by Taiwan’s Economy minister Sun Yun-suan. Tasked with fostering technology-intensive industries in an attempt to shift away from the traditional labor intensive economy of Taiwan at the time. By 1977 ITRI engineers had established the first semiconductor fabrication facility, making 4inch round wafers of microprocessors. By 1980 an industry had been born with companies such as UMC, TSMC, Taiwan Mask becoming well established along with Taiwan’s high-tech reputation.
ITRI’s R&D facilities are world-class having in the past received the Wall Street Journals innovation award, made themselves a stalwart on the R&D 100 for the last 4 years and this year they won a Silver award at the SID display conference for their flexible display substrate. Responsible for single-handedly building the electronics industry in Taiwan to this day they play an important role with Taiwan’s electronics industry.
The annual R&D 100 Awards list compiles the 100 most innovative inventions as selected by R&D Mag, listed in alphabetical order, very democratic. Other notable inclusions in this years list included Los Alamos National Laboratory, MIT, NASA and Oak Ridge Labs. ITRI take great pride at their appearance on the list, lets face it if your business is high-tech invention it’s a good list to be a part of.
Display technology can now cover every corner of the planet, even places far away from the power grid or cost sensitive places like labels. This technology represents a shift in design, the idea of making display panels that use no electricity is revolutionary. Here at Highpants we wonder what ITRI will have for us next year, what technological breakthrough waits just around the corner ?
Buddha’s Brother out…