Philips video-speed electronic-paper technology

Friday October 3, 2003

Philips has demonstrated an electronic-paper technology capable of displaying full-colour video content with reflectivity and contrast qualities approaching those of real paper. Presented by scientists from Philips in the September 25 issue of Nature, the low-power and low-voltage technology uses a process known as "electrowetting" to form images in fluid trapped within the "paper" interface.

When no voltage is being applied to the confined water/oil interface used in the Philips project, the oil forms a flat film between the water and the water-repellent insulating coating of an electrode, resulting in a coloured pixel. When voltage is applied, the interfacial tension between the water and the coating changes, resulting in the oil being moved aside to reveal a reflective white surface.

The manipulation is fast enough to allow the display of video content with four times the brightness of reflective LCDs according to Philips. The brightness of the display is enhanced by the use of a sub-pixel system that enables two thirds of the display area to reflect light in any desired colour (rather than one third as in RGB filter arrangements) and significantly increases reflectivity.

The Philips R&D project is one of several emerging "electronic paper" or "digital ink technologies aiming towards a revolution in lightweight, fast and powerful portable displays.

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