Nov 242010


E-ink’s benefits over other forms of display are obvious: you don’t have to backlight it if you don’t want to, so it’s very easy on the eye and also on a device’s battery.

You can effectively use it to produce an electronic screen that’s as pleasant to look at as a printed piece of paper. And the technology seems set to take another leap forward with the announcement that University of Cincinnati researchers have developed an e-ink technology that’s quick enough to competently display full color video – but so cheap that it can be completely disposable. How? Well, instead of using glass or flexible plastic as the basic substrate layer, they’re using paper – and getting excellent results. So you could end up with single-page disposable electronic newspapers and magazines that use a tiny fraction of the paper their printed counterparts require. Clever stuff!

The paper-based e-ink technology uses the electrowetting method, in which an electric field is applied to colored droplets in a display unit to effectively turn on and off pixels in an array. Unlike an electrophoretic display like the one used in Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, an electrowetting screen is able to deliver full color, and it can refresh quickly enough to display video.

It uses very little power, it’s low-voltage, but delivers high contrast and can be used to deliver exceptional brightness, up to four times brighter than a reflective LCD screen – not to mention that electrowetting screens can be made flat and very thin.

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