E-paper comes closer

Plastic power

Boffins at Philips Research have taken a big step towards the dream of electronic paper by building a display based on flexible plastic, rather than the usual silicon.

Working with scientists at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, Philips has crammed 4,096 plastic transistors into a two-inch display, which apparently works well enough to generate video, albeit in a very low resolution: 64 by 64 pixels with 256 shades of grey, refreshing at about 50Hz.

Ultimately, people could whip out some e-paper, roll it out and watch television on it, says a Philips spokesman.

While this prototype is built using glass, the researchers claim they've got what they need to reproduce this on a flexible surface, which would be major progress towards a paper-like computer display that you could conceivably fold up and carry with you.

The company developed a semi-conductive polymer film, which is etched into tiny transistors and then backed out onto a type of LCD.

Before products like this can become something viable, the viewable size has to be scaled up and contrast improved, which is what the boffins are now working on. ®