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Printed Electronics World
Posted on May 30, 2007 by  & 

Flexible Electrophoretic Displays from Polymer Vision and PVI

Innos has been working with universities and commercial organisations for over 20 years to bring silicon-based electronic innovations from design-to-prototype-to-market. Now it is taking this expertise in silicon processing techniques and applying them to polymer/organic electronics.
On a recent visit to Innos, IDTechEx was shown what it claims is the world's first Thin Film Transistor (TFT) polymer electronics pilot production facility in Southampton UK. From this facility, Innos has been commissioned by Netherlands based Polymer Vision to produce electrophoretic rollable active-matrix display technology, based on thin film transistor drive circuits on silicon that are transferred to low-cost polymer substrates.
Chief Executive, Andrew Monk and Business Development Director, Dr Alec Reader said they see a great future in rollable displays with many niche markets emerging. Although the fully printed route may eventually provide lower costs and higher throughput, it is extremely challenging technically, whereas the Polymer Vision process is claimed to be low risk, given the familiar processing technology and breakthroughs in manufacturing techniques by Innos.
Polymer Vision claims to be the world leader in rollable displays, "a unique solution allowing mobile displays larger than the device itself". The company, which is "dedicated to put a rollable display in every mobile device", was founded in 2006 as a spin out of Royal Philips Electronics after a first round of investment by Technology Capital SA, Luxembourg.
The competition
Others commercialising flexible electrophoretic active matrix displays with organic drive circuits include Sony in Japan and Plastic Logic, which already has a pilot facility in the UK and is building a factory for full production in Germany. See our articles Sony progresses OLED TV and, concerning Plastic Logic, First Series Production of Electronic Paper Displays Opening in 2008. Plastic Logic argues that it will be first with volume production. It will print directly onto the flexible plastic substrate, partly by ink jet.
Prime View International
Prime View International in Taiwan bought an electrophoretic display business of Philips in 2005, but there is no link between them and Innos. Prime View International, a subsidiary of the Yuen Foong Yu Group, makes a rigid glass e-book display for Sony. Earlier in 2007, Prime View International (PVI) announced what it called the "World's First Flexible Active-Matrix (AM) Electrophoretic Display Made in a Volume TFT Fab" at Display Week 2007.
Source: PVI
This electrophoretic display comes in 6-in. and 1.9-in sizes. The new PVI Screens are built on "MagicMirror Reflective Technology that provides an extremely efficient and high-quality reflective TFT backplane as well as the EPLaR process that enables all standard a-Si TFT, developed by Philips Research". PVI's flexible e-Paper is said to be very slim, light in weight, easy to handle and virtually unbreakable. It offers enhanced choices and convenience to the reader providing greater freedom for industrial designers. Toppan Printing is also bringing a flexible electrophoretic display to market in this case with inorganic printed transistor drive circuits.
IDTechEx makes no judgment as to who is first in flexible electrophoretic displays. It is a global race and the participants are neck and neck so far. The race for an acceptable, affordable product is more important, as is the race for colour versions.
The earlier Polymer Vision announcement concerning the Innos partnership was as follows:
Eindhoven, Netherlands - January the 24th 2007 - Polymer Vision today announced its cooperation with Innos (UK) to establish the world's first production facility for organic semiconductor based rollable displays. Manufacturing will start this year to meet the increasing commercial demand for the unique Polymer Vision display technology and product.
Following 10 years of research, Polymer Vision has spent the past three years processing displays in its own pilot facility in Eindhoven to develop the technology to maturity. Polymer Vision and Innos will together transfer the process technology and finalise qualifications in Southampton, UK, where Innos has already started installing equipment in its newly built cleanroom.
In line with their strategy to use mainstream Thin Film Transistor (TFT) equipment, Polymer Vision is confident that they will rapidly scale up to commercial volumes in 2007. "This step confirms Polymer Vision's pioneering position in the new industry of rollable and flexible displays and marks the next step towards putting the products in the consumer's hands," says Guido Aelbers, COO of Polymer Vision. "Innos' experience of semiconductor processing and manufacturing equipment is vital to our success in meeting market demand and we are very happy to be working together with Innos."
Alec Reader, Business Development Director at Innos comments, "Rollable display technology is the future for mobile devices and Innos is delighted to be sharing its expertise and working with Polymer Vision to bring this next generation of technology to the mass market."
Polymer Vision rollable display technology enables mobile devices to incorporate a display that is larger than the device itself. This is the breakthrough needed in the world-wide mobile industry, to address the dilemma of display size versus device size. With the opportunity to create unique design form factors and the additional advantage of low power, rollable displays will lead to a whole new generation of mobile devices.
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