To conform or not to conform? Breaking away from the constraints of glass

Paul Cain, Strategy Director

September 23, 2015

In my world, flexible displays are the key enabling component for the next generation of techie gadgets. In order to unlock the full potential of new markets such as wearables, we need thinner, lighter and more robust electronics, and today, organic transistors are emerging as the winning ingredient.

Breakable glass screens will be a thing of the pastFlexible displays made from organic electronics are more suitable for complex product geometries and tougher than their glass counterparts offering some indisputable benefits:

• shatterproof, thinner and lighter mobile devices

• larger screen areas for smart watches and wearables - substantially increasing device utility

• unlock design freedom in automotive - design the display around the car and not the other way round

• significant weight and thus fuel savings for in-flight entertainment systems

How is this all possible? Well, here's the science bit.

Electronics devices are made of several components, but the most fundamental is the transistor. The most flexible transistor is the organic thin film transistor (OTFT) which is made using solution-processed polymers (plastics) that are then deposited through a combination of conventional printing and patterning techniques.

When you 'print' the polymer solution onto a plastic substrate, all of the components of the backplane are flexible and you can now pair this with almost any kind of frontplane display technology.

Liquid crystal technology is today's most dominate display technology, and we've used our OTFT technology to create a new liquid crystal technology, namely organic liquid crystal displays. These displays are several times lighter, thinner, and ultimately cheaper than glass based displays of similar performance and can be conformed to everyday surfaces, like a car dashboard.

We're also able to make flexible organic light emitting displays, which have the potential to be incredibility flexible, foldable, and eventually stretchable.

Not too far in the future, we'll look back on the days when displays had to be made of glass and wonder why it took so long for someone to invent the flexible plastic display - a display which we'll see all around us on vehicles, in homes, on our bodies, and on almost any other surface in our daily lives.



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