Strength and Flexibility


Stephen P. Atwood

Welcome to our February 2011 issue, which is focused on the theme of Flexible Displays. This month we welcome back veteran contributor and past-SID-President Paul Drzaic as our Guest Editor. As usual, Paul has done a great job, assembling a trio of technology articles that we really hope you enjoy. I won't steal Paul's thunder on the introductions; you should read them for yourself in his Guest Editorial.

However, I do want to note that I was very pleasantly surprised when I read the article from Kent Displays titled, "Beyond Conventional Display Applications: Cholesteric Reflective LCDs." In this article, the author reveals that Kent Displays is now manufacturing its cholesteric liquid-crystal-based displays on a fully automated roll-to-roll production line. An LCD developer is making its displays with a roll-to-roll process, and in North America as well! It's true that these are passively addressed displays, which avoids the tricky issue of fabricating active-matrix switches on the rollable substrates, but this is still a real roll-based process in volume production. It has been the goal of so many manufacturers to reach this stage and realize the myriad of potential cost savings associated with this approach and I think this is an exciting milestone to note in our industry.

Roll to roll is just one of the headlines this year on the flexible front. To help you get the broadest possible view, we enlisted industry analyst Paul Semenza from DisplaySearch. In his article, "Flexible Displays: Still a Lot to Learn," Paul covers the gamut, including flexible-backplane materials, active-matrix backplanes, liquid-crystal and OLED technologies, inorganic EL, and even a curved plasma display. It's a busy area, and Paul did a good job sorting through it all for us.

While we were putting this issue together, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was playing in Las Vegas to an audience of over 140,000 attendees – most of which will hopefully be energized to buy some of the new toys and help boost this year's economy. We recruited veteran reporter Alfred Poor to take a look for us and he came back with a number of interesting observations. He noted especially the plethora of new 3-D TVs, some of which are now using patterned retarders to enable the use of passive glasses instead of the more common shutter glasses we have discussed many times in other months. The move to passive glasses is a good one, putting the user experience more on par with that in a local 3-D movie theater, as well as reducing the cost of the glasses to mere dollars from hundreds of dollars per pair. Television viewing is a family experience, and the cost of the glasses seems to be a meaningful deterrent to adoption of these sets. Be sure to read through Alfred's CES coverage, and I'm sure you will find plenty to get excited about with regard to displays.

One last thing I want to mention is our article on the Latin Display 2010 conference, contributed by Ken Werner and Alaide P. Mammana. The team leading the Brazil chapter of SID has been working for years to further the education of engineers in display technology as well as foster investment in display-related business in that region. A big part of this effort is the Latin Display conference, which has grown significantlyover the past few years into a full three-day event. Of course, holding it in conjunction with the International Display Research Conference (IRDC) this year did not hurt, but as you can see from Ken and Alaide's comprehensive review that there was plenty of strength in the core of Latin Display to help educate and evangelize displays all on its own. I think it is worth noting that a great many very talented industry veterans from the SID community volunteer their time each year to support this event and it is sure to pay dividends in years to come. The event was, in fact, sponsored by the Brazilian Government, with funding from BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank), MCT (Ministry of Science and Technology), ABDI (Brazilian Agency for the Industrial Development), and CNPq (National Research Council). I applaud the efforts of the Latin America SID chapter, as well as the forward thinking of the Brazilian government when it comes to making investments in display technology and providing a nurturing economic environment for fledgling companies.

I hope you enjoy this very flexible issue of Information Display. •