Conformable liquid crystal cells bring innovation to automotive smart windows

Paul Cain, Strategy Director

September 02, 2020

FlexEnable’s technology – high-performance organic transistor materials and complete manufacturing process - is the key to low cost large area flexible electronics, and allows almost any surface to be brought to life – displaying, sensing and controlling information to or from that surface.

Automotive interiors are a prime example of where flexible electronics is needed – cars hardly contain any flat surfaces (except the existing glass displays and the vanity mirror!). The explosive growth of screens in cars in the coming few years requires displays that follow the contours and curves of the interior.

FlexEnable’s glass-free Organic LCD (OLCD) technology addresses the need for conformed and shaped displays, while also meeting the automotive reliability and cost requirements. The low temperature processing on plastic substrates underpinning OLCD can also be used in applications like smart windows which have become another major automotive trend.

Smart windows

There is an increasing need for car windows and sunroofs that can change tint at a touch of a button. This is not only to control how much daylight and heat gets into the car, but also to change the user’s environment. For example, in the future passengers in self-driving cars  will be reading, working, sleeping or watching movies so being able to control the light will be important. From a user perspective, the ideal performance for a smart window is for colour neutral window that can almost instantly transition from bright to dark mode. Liquid crystal cell technology meets these requirements, with rapid switching times at low voltage, and colour-neutral with a large dynamic range.

Auto smart windows

Conformable liquid crystal cells

Glass liquid crystal cells can meet these electrical and optical requirements, but cannot easily be applied to automotive because the windows are not flat; nearly all car glazing is curved in two axes (biaxially conformed).

FlexEnable’s core display technology comprises an organic transistors backplane and a liquid crystal frontplane, each of which is manufactured on plastic instead of glass. The liquid crystal cells can be used to make ultra-thin, conformable smart window films. They are colour neutral and can be switched at video rate to clear, tinted or anything in between. By using plastic substrates, FlexEnable’s cells are biaxially conformable and can match the curvature of the glass. They use a low cost and highly scalable process that can be performed in existing display factories.

For more information on liquid crystal cells for smart windows, please get in touch with us at info@flexenable.com.

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