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Flexible Displays

Project description

Advanced displays Rolling out market-ready flexible displays

Flexible displays that can be bent, rolled up or even attached to clothing have long captured the imaginations of film-makers. Now they are making the leap from science fiction to science – and consumer – reality.

Displays akin to the newspapers with moving images seen in films such as Minority Report and the Harry Potter series could soon become everyday items thanks to the work of a consortium of European companies and research institutes.

Working in the FlexiDis project, researchers have created the world’s first production-ready method of manufacturing flexible displays. The research has also triggered several spin-off initiatives that should result in commercial products on the market in the near future.

The goal, say the researchers, is not to compete directly with the rigid flat panel displays that have become a common addition to consumer electronics devices, but to start introducing products in novel market areas and even create new markets that could not exist without the technology.

From supermarket displays to e-paper

Flexible displays could, for example, be used to display prices on supermarket shelves, wrapped around vehicles for advertising or attached to the arms of jackets to provide people with location information.

Or they could be incorporated into mobile phones or laptop computers and rolled out when the user wants a bigger, higher resolution screen for watching a movie or looking at architectural drawings.

One of their first uses will be as e-paper, which can be used as rollout displays for reading a book, viewing a digital map or catching up on e-mails on the fly.

E-reader applications are already being developed by two companies spun-off during the FlexiDis project. One is Polymer Vision, set up by project partner Philips. The other is Plastic Logic, established by the University of Cambridge.

Breakthrough manufacturing method

Meanwhile, another partner, Thales Avionics LCD, is using the technology to develop new displays for the avionics industry.

At the heart of the success of the FlexiDis project is a breakthrough in the method used to manufacture flexible displays, allowing them to be produced cost-effectively in existing factories built to make flat panel displays.

Called EPLaR (Electronics on Plastic by Laser Release), the technology works by depositing thin-film transistors (TFTs) – the components that control the state of each pixel in a display – in a plastic layer coated onto a glass plate.

The plastic is a special kind of polymer called polyimide that can resist the high temperatures needed to make the TFTs. It is then pealed from the glass plate using a laser process to create an ultra-thin, light and robust display that can be bent or rolled up like a magazine.

Developing the technology

The partners also experimented with using organic TFTs, which can be deposited at lower temperatures to allow more types of plastics to be used. They tested organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which emit their own light from each pixel rather than using liquid- crystal pixels that filter light from a background source.

Currently three out of four factories in the world producing flexible displays are in Europe. All four use technologies developed by the FlexiDis project.

Call for proposal

FP6-2003-IST-2
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

IP - Integrated Project

Coordinator

PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NEDERLAND B.V.
Address
Professor Holstlaan 4 (Wy5-38)
5656 AA Eindhoven
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 4 105 105

Participants (27)

INTERUNIVERSITAIR MICRO-ELECTRONICA CENTRUM VZW
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 355 468
Address
Kapeldreef 75
3001 Leuven
Activity type
Research Organisations
ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 771 479
Address
Ecublens
1015 Lausanne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
DEUTSCHE THOMSON-BRANDT GMBH

Participation ended

Germany
EU contribution
€ 258 900
Address
Hermann-schwer-strasse 3
78048 Villingen-schwenningen
UNIVERSITAET STUTTGART
Germany
EU contribution
€ 1 056 310
Address
Keplerstrasse 7
70174 Stuttgart
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT
Germany
EU contribution
€ 111 247
Address
Petuelring 130
80788 Muenchen
PROTEC PROCESS SYSTEMS GMBH
Germany
EU contribution
€ 95 000
Address
Birlenbacher Strasse 19
57078 Siegen
NOVALED GMBH
Germany
EU contribution
€ 188 281
Address
Zellescher Weg 17
01069 Dresden
Activity type
Research Organisations
DEUTSCHE THOMSON OHG
Germany
EU contribution
€ 270 136
Address
Karl-wiechert-allee 74
30625 Hannover
LEGO SYSTEM A/S

Participation ended

Denmark
EU contribution
€ 8 176
Address
Aastvej 1
7190 Billund
NOKIA OYJ
Finland
EU contribution
€ 400 688
Address
Keilalahdentie 4
02150 Espoo
STMICROELECTRONICS SA
France
EU contribution
€ 248 750
Address
29 Boulevard Romain Rolland
92120 Montrouge
Activity type
Other
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE
France
EU contribution
€ 469 603
Address
3, Rue Michel-ange
75794 Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
COMMISSARIAT A L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE
France
EU contribution
€ 1 440 310
Address
31-33 Rue De La Federation
75752 Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
UNAXIS FRANCE SAS

Participation ended

France
EU contribution
€ 166 317
Address
5 Rue Leon Blum
91120 Palaiseau
PJDO SAS
France
EU contribution
€ 126 578
Address
Impasse Des Magniolias, Le Parc Du Guillon
38500 Coublevie
THOMSON R & D FRANCE SNC

Participation ended

France
EU contribution
€ 663 572
Address
Quai Alphonse Le Gallo 46
92100 Boulogne Billancourt
THALES AVIONICS LCD SA
France
EU contribution
€ 522 000
Address
Boulevard Haussmann 173
75008 Paris
CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
Italy
EU contribution
€ 319 247
Address
Piazzale Aldo Moro 7
00185 Roma
Activity type
Research Organisations
LATVIJAS UNIVERSITATES POLIMERU MEHANIKAS INSTITUTS
Latvia
EU contribution
€ 144 480
Address
Aizkraukles Iela 23
1006 Riga
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.

Participation ended

Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 130 112
Address
De Run 6501
5504DR Veldhoven
IREX TECHNOLOGIES B.V.
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 111 719
Address
High Tech Campus, Gebouw 46
5656AE Eindhoven
PLASTIC LOGIC LIMITED

Participation ended

United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 734 587
Address
34-35 Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road
CB4 OFX Cambridge
POLYMER VISION LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 194 249
Address
Fourth Floor, Imperial House 15-19 Kingsway
WC2B 6UN London
THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 390 888
Address
The Old Schools, Trinity Lane
CB2 1TN Cambridge
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
PHILIPS ELECTRONICS UK LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 446 610
Address
420-430 London Road
CR9 3QR Croydon
Activity type
Other
AVECIA LIMITED

Participation ended

United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 53 276
Address
Hexagon House, Blackley
M9 8ZS Manchester
MERCK LTD

Participation ended

United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 281 237
Address
Wilberforce Court, Alfred Gelder Street
HU1 1YN Hull