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Debutant flexible touchscreen initially headed for the battlefield


Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center (FDC) and its military and industry partners are claiming development of the first flexible touchscreen integrated with an active-matrix display. Based on active-matrix electrophoretic display technology from E-Ink Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.) the new flexible touchscreen uses materials supplied by DuPont Teijin Films, which manufactures the plastic used as a substitute for glass in conventional touchscreens. Amorphous silicon thin-film transistors were fabricated on DuPont's flexible Teonex polyethylene napthalate substrate. The assembly drives E Ink's active-matrix electrophoretic displays.
The light-weight device is initially headed for the battlefield, as the touchscreens that are no longer made of glass can now be used for rugged applications. Designed to be sufficiently rugged for use on the battlefield, the display is also extremely thin compared to traditional glass touchscreens. The paper-thin display should reduce soldiers' load, and its low power consumption eliminates the need for a heavy lithium-ion battery used with ordinary LCD-based laptop computer displays. E-Ink's flexible display has now found a match by way of a flexible touchscreen and can now extend applications, as glass touchscreens can only be used when securely enclosed in a hard-shell housing. Introduction of flexibility in the entire device is expected to enable larger-sized touchscreens for electronic newspapers, textbooks and other larger format applications.
Integration of the three distinct elements: the E Ink Visplex display, the plastic backplane and the touchscreen, is the result of a collaboration between the FDC, DuPont Teijin Films and E Ink. Inductive technology allows users to touch the screen with a finger or a stylus. Like E Ink's display, the touchscreen consumes power only when its contents are being changed. In writing mode, information sketched on the display can be stored, then erased. Manufacturing costs are estimated to drop once consumer applications are tapped, which seems around the corner as FDC estimates that the technology is barely 18 months away from commercialization. However, for future commercial applications like e-newspapers, a more durable flexible touchscreen is needed that would allow users to navigate using on-screen icons, then roll up the e-paper for carrying and storage.
In another new development, Fujifilm Corporation has developed "transparent super high barrier film" a film that offers the world's highest level of moisture barrier property with transparency. The film is essential for flexible electronic devices, currently under research and development in fields including organic electroluminescence (EL) displays and solar cells. The "transparent super high barrier film, "developed by Fujifilm, offers an advanced level of moisture barrier performance at 10-6[g/(md)], through combining knowledge of organic materials, accumulated through past R&D of photographic film and flat-panel display materials, with the film formation technology that enables precision control of film properties and thickness to prevent defects that could affect barrier performance. The establishment of the Roll-to-Roll film formation method also provides positive outlook for volume production. It enables the formation of a barrier layer on various types of base film, including transparent and flexible PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and PEN (Polyethylene Naphthalate), and therefore may be applied to a wide range of fields as high-performance film, required in flexible electronic devices. Flexible organic EL displays, electronic papers, organic EL lightings and thin film solar cells are expected to become next-generation electronic devices. These devices require flexible, transparent, and thin/lightweight high-performance films as key component to replace existing glass and metal, which cannot be easily made thinner or lighter. Yet, high-performance films, when used as key components, must demonstrate an extremely high level of barrier property to block external moisture, which could deteriorate electronic devices' component performance and damage their durability.

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