Taiwanese researchers show several flexible e-reader screens

ITRI showed off a 4.1-inch flexible color OLED screen for smartphones and small devices

A flexible OLED screen

A flexible OLED screen

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) showed off a number of flexible display screen technologies in Taipei on Thursday as part of a show promoting e-readers and e-paper.

One of the newest technologies from ITRI was a flexible 4.1-inch color OLED (organic light emitting diode) display.

"This is the first time we've showcased this OLED technology. It's more flexible and softer than before. It's for the next-era of portable devices," said John Chen, general director of the Display Technology Center at ITRI.

"We think OLED will work better than other technologies. There's no need for a backlight or a polarizer nor stacks of optical film," he added.

ITRI, which is partly funded by the Taiwan government, is already working with companies in Taiwan to use the screens in smartphones and other devices. The current version is not a touchscreen, but ITRI hopes industry partners can help with that part of the screen, he said.

Another highlight of the event was a color e-reader touchscreen display with software to allow people to draw pictures and take notes in addition to reading. The Ch-LCD (cholesteric liquid crystal display) screen is thin and light, consumes less power and is less costly than other technologies, ITRI said.

ITRI also showed a sheet of Ch-LCD e-paper and an e-paper writing device that looks like a large scanner and writes patterns onto the Ch-LCD e-paper. The e-paper screen is embedded in the middle of a sheet of thin card, and is reusable so the images on the screen can be changed. The writing device took about 40 seconds to put an image onto the 3.5-inch by 4.5-inch e-paper screen during a demonstration. Researchers envision many uses for the e-paper, including in posters, documents, maps, and greeting cards, which were at the display, and other products.

A joint effort by ITRI and U.S. glass-maker Corning was also at the show, OTFTs (organic thin-film-transistors), for thin, flexible, low-cost screens. OTFTs can be used with glass or plastic, ITRI said. The two are working on OTFTs as a possible screen technology for e-paper.

Other technologies at the show included a flexible large-area monochrome Ch-LCD screen able to be rolled up, which could be used in billboards or other large display, as well as a flexible substrate able to withstand temperatures as high as 220 degrees Celsius.

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