Flexible display screens: Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me

Over the years, the screens on laptops, televisions, mobile phones and so on have got sharper, wider and thinner. They are about to get thinner still, but with a new twist. By using flexible components, these screens will also become bendy. Some could even be rolled up and slipped into your pocket like a piece of electronic paper. These thin sheets of plastic will be able to display words and images; a book, perhaps, or a newspaper or a magazine. And now it looks as if they might be mass produced in much the same way as the printed paper they are emulating.The crucial technological development happened recently at the Flexible Display Centre at Arizona State University. Using a novel lithographic process invented by HP Labs, the research arm of Hewlett-Packard, and an electronic ink produced by E Ink, a company spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the centre’s researchers succeeded in printing flexible displays onto long rolls of a special plastic film made by DuPont. To make individual screens, the printed film is sliced up into sections rather as folios for magazines or newspapers would be cut from a printed web of paper.

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