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Conference features the latest in flexible display technology


By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

At Display Week 2015, bigger is better. Smaller is better. And flexible may be best of all, for the era of wearable electronics.

There are some huge screens on display, so to speak, throughout the conference’s exhibition floor, such as BOE Technology Group’s 110-inch 8K Ultra High Definition television or LG Display’s curved 77-inch 4K UHD TV. There are also very small displays, such as E Ink’s smallest electronic shelf labels.

Many new developments can be viewed in the rows of exhibits, such as displays made with quantum dots. Of the 74 sessions in the technical program, at least eight are devoted to flexible displays (including one on electronic paper) or wearable displays.

A seminar on Monday, June 1, titled “Major Issues of AMOLED Displays: Challenges of Flexible OLED Displays and OLED TV” and given by Professor Jun Souk of Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea, attracted a standing-room-only audience. Thursday, June 4, will see a day-long Market Focus Conference on Wearable-Flexible, with presentations by ARM Holdings, Google, Intel, and other companies.

Sri Peruvemba, chief executive officer of Marketer International, said Tuesday, June 2, that flexible, foldable, and even rollable displays are among the top trends this year at the Society for Information Display conference. The tantalizing prospect of flexible displays has been around for some years, and “I hope it will happen before I retire,” he said.

While E Ink gets most of its revenue from displays for electronic readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, it is active in flexible displays, too, for such applications as smartwatches, according to Giovanni Mancini, the company’s senior director and head of global marketing. For larger form factors, E Ink offers its Mobius active-matrix, thin-film transistor displays, developed in conjunction with Sony. Mobius displays weigh less than half of comparably-sized glass-based electronic paper displays, according to E Ink.

C3nano, a venture-funded startup based in Hayward, California, is completing its emergence from stealth mode with a booth at the SID conference. The company is touting the use of silver nanowires in flexible materials as an alternative to utilizing indium tin oxide. CEO Cliff Morris said C3nano chose silver nanowire technology, based on work from Professor Zhenan Bao’s chemical engineering laboratory at Stanford University, to produce transparent conductive transfer films and inks in its Activegrid line. The company on Monday announced a joint development partnership with Hitachi Chemical.

“Non-ITO transparent conductors are not only replacing ITO, but also provide functions that ITO cannot,” Jennifer Colegrove, CEO and principal analyst at Touch Display Research, said in a statement.

Morris said carbon nanotube nanowires are stronger than silver nanowires, yet don’t offer the clarity and transparency of their silver counterparts. And silver is easily available as a source material, he noted.

Corning had a number of product introductions at the show, including its new Lotus NXT Glass for high-performance displays. The company was also exhibiting its flexible Willow Glass, which can be mounted on a carrier glass with its proprietary bonding solution to provide curved displays for cellphones and other mobile devices.

Flexible displays – they could be coming to your smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer in the near future.

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