OLCD innovation – from large-area flexible displays to bezel-less screens
November 27, 2019
FlexEnable demonstrated an Organic Liquid Crystal Display (OLCD) for the first time back in 2015. Since then the technology has been further developed and perfected to reach a status where it is now primed for production.
In this blog we take a look at the key milestones achieved and what lies ahead for this exciting new display technology.
World’s first flexible OLCD
In 2015, FlexEnable showed a full colour, video-rate plastic LCD enabled by our flexible electronics technology. Our platform uses flexible organic transistors that outperform the existing standard of amorphous silicon on glass - these organic transistors are processed at low temperatures (below 100°C) to allow the use of ultra-low cost plastic substrates. The resulting OLCD has the same performance as glass LCD, but with the added benefits of being thin, lightweight, shatterproof and conformable.
OLCD gained an international attention after FlexEnable showed a curved OLCD demo publically for the first time at Mobile World Congress 2016. Since then the technology has won many prestigious awards including the IET Awards, TechWorks Awards and Flexi Awards.
Large-area flexible displays
Manufacturing at scale is at the heart of FlexEnable’s approach to flexible displays. Similar to glass LCD, OLCD is easy to scale both in terms of physical display size and manufacturing volume. This is because of the OTFT materials used, but also because the processes FlexEnable has developed are compatible with the equipment used in existing flat panel display factories. These factories can be easily repurposed for the production of flexible OLCD creating a simpler and more cost-effective route to manufacture compared with other flexible display technologies like flexible OLED.
In December 2016 FlexEnable showed a conformed 12.1” OLCD demonstrating the scalability of the technology. OLCD is particularly suited to applications where low-cost, large area active matrix displays are needed.
OLCD enters concept cars
The trend for more and larger screens in automotive interiors has led to rising demand for displays that can conform to the non-flat and non-rectangular surfaces of the car. As well as being conformable and shapeable, OLCD is designed to meet key automotive requirements including long lifetime and low cost. A great example of how OLCD is used in cars is the demo car created by Novares and revealed in June 2019 - it features an S-shaped OLCD as the centre console, left and right side OLCD concave side-mirror replacement displays and a curved OLCD passenger HMI touch screen integrated with the rear door panel.
In 2019 FlexEnable made another breakthrough by demonstrating a bezel-less OLCD - this was achieved by folding the borders behind the display. This important development, which cannot be achieved with glass displays, shows that OLCD can bring thin and light bezel-less displays to notebooks and tablets offering a lower cost alternative to flexible OLED.
OLCD offers a route to ultra-high contrast dual cell displays. While dual-cell LCDs have already been demonstrated (Hisense 65” 4K U9E model is on the market) they are made on glass which adds both thickness to the module and increases costs. Since OLCD uses ultra-thin thin plastic substrates it allows for extremely thin modules that can be manufactured in a simpler way than dual cell glass LCD and OLED, at lower cost with higher optical performance.
What next for OLCD?
OLCD innovation doesn’t stop here. With the recent acquisition of Merck’s OTFT materials portfolio, FlexEnable now offers the full set of materials and processes needed for the production of flexible OLCD. We are working with our manufacturing partners to bring OLCD on the market next year to meet rising demand for low-cost, large area flexible displays for a range of applications across consumer electronics, automotive, digital signage and beyond.
For more information on OLCD, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.