Researchers from China have developed a paper-thin LCD screen that is flexible and light, paving the way for smart daily newspapers that could be uploaded onto the display in real time. Scientists predict that the technology would be cost effective to produce, costing about 5 USD for a 5-inch screen.
The research team focused on two primary innovations for achieving highly flexible designs. The first is the recent development of optically rewritable LCDs. Like conventional LCD displays, their display is structured like a sandwich, with a liquid crystal filling between two plates. But, unlike conventional liquid crystals where electrical connections on the plates create the fields required to switch individual pixels from light to dark, optically rewritable LCDs coat the plates with special molecules that realign in the presence of polarized light and switch the pixels.
This is the sole factor that eliminates the need for traditional electrode, the team explains, and reduces the bulk from the structure, allowing more choices in the thickness and type of plates. This results in thinner rewritable LCDs, and at less than half a millimeter thick, they can be made from flexible plastic, and weigh only a few grams.
The engineers explain that with this technology a daily newspaper could be uploaded onto a flexible paper-like display and updated as fast as the news cycles.
The scientists have tried three different spacer designs and explain they found that a mesh-like spacer prevents the liquid crystal from flowing when their LCD was bent or hit. According to Jiatong Sun of Donghua University in China, this has thus enabled them to create the first flexible optically rewritable LCD. To make this into a commercial product, Sun would like to improve the resolution of the flexible optically rewritable LCD.