The University of Toronto is not saying much about its invention of Photonic Displays, otherwise known as P-ink, doubtless because patents are pending. Its Innovations Foundation UTIF - the licensing arm - has, however, declared that it expects to have a prototype display ready in 2006.
UTIF is organising a development partnership with Luxell Technologies to cover one year of work on the prototype. Funding is being sought. P-ink was developed by Geoffrey Ozin and Ian Manners at the University and it is an ink that changes colour under electrical bias. Nanoscale spheres are put in the ink which also consists of a polymer gel which swells when it is soaked with solvent and shrinks when it dries. This causes diffraction changes giving a change in colour mimicking the display on a butterfly wing, which is also reflective but pigment free.
The inventors believe that e-ink could be used for a refreshable, flexible full colour newspaper, presumably competing with electrophoretic displays of E-ink, Sony and Gyricon, which are also non-volatile but are currently very limited in colours. It could also be used in chemical sensors that change colour to indicate what they detect, says UTIF. Perhaps electrochromic displays would be a competitior here. Being reflective, we doubt that the product will compete with light emitting displays such as CRTs, plasma panels and, more recently, OLEDs and ac electroluminescent displays but that still leaves an enormous potential market particularly if temperature performance, life and cost are competitive and colours are better. With the exception of ac electroluminescence the developers of the other new display technologies are having great difficulty in doing very large areas such as billboards and wrap arounds on architectural features so P-ink has everything to play for here as well, particularly if it avoids the colour limitations and power demands of ac electroluminescence.
"Developing the prototype display will give the technology the kick start it needs to move in the direction of sensors and in the direction of electronic paper", said Mike Szarka, technology manager of UTIF. He believes that sensor displays will be the first to hit the market.
The University of Toronto Innovations Foundation's (UTIF) goal is to maximize the impact of the more than $2 million spent every day on research at the University of Toronto and the hospitals associated with the University. It helps researchers and businesses to capitalize on unique opportunities.
Staffed by over 20 professionals with a variety of technology and business expertise, UTIF is a leader in the field of technology commercialization. It claims to know the "ins and outs" of maximizing the impact of research and creating business opportunity.
For more see www.innovationsfoundation.com