Flexible E-ink

Some time ago, E-books were lunched on the market and people were really enthusiastic about them. This tablets represented the first good alternative experience to the traditional reading. One of the good things about this is that the price is not that big and almost everyone can afford to buy one, another quality is that they are lite and easy to handle, and the most important one is the experience that the reader have it when his eyes interact with this special screen.

But what exactly is special about this display, and what does it make it so pleasant for our eyes?

E-readers screens work with a e ink technology. E-ink or electrophoretic ink, is a specific property type of electronic paper. The material is processed into a film for integration into electronic display, particular for e-readers.

Electronic paper, and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel which emit light, electronic paper display reflect light like ordinary paper, making it more comfortable to read, and the surface has a wider angle than conventional displays.  The contrast ration might be described as similar to that of newspaper, but the newer display are even better. A good e-paper display can be used in the direct light of the sun without having any issues reading the content, or a fading image. Many electronic paper technologies can hold static text without using electricity. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane.

One interesting fact is that this technology was first developed in 1970. It was consisted of polyethylene spheres between 75 and 106 micrometers across. Each sphere is a janus particle composed negatively charged black plastic on one side positively charged with plastic on the other. The spheres are embedded in a transparent silicone sheet  with each sphere suspended in a bubble of oil so that they can rotate freely. The polarity of the  voltage applied to each pair of electrodes then determines whether the white or black side is face-up, thus giving the pixel a white or black appearance.

There are few kinds of electronic paper, they evolved as the years past and the technology advanced. (Electrophoretic display, Electrowetting, Electrofluidic,, Interferometric modulator display, Cholestreric liquid crystal display, Nematic materials, TRED).

There are some disadvantages regarding the electronic paper. They have a very low refresh rate, which prevents producers to add faster interactive applications, like those you can find on the smartphones or tablets. This low refresh rate also affects the consumer when he wants to zoom in a text, because then will appear a blur or the zoom will be made very slow. Another downside of the e-paper si the ghosting effect, also know as the screen burn-in, but after you refresh the screen a few times this effect will disappear.

The electronic paper technology can be found in many devices this days, and many developers opt for it because of the low power usage.

Here is where you can find it:

– Wristwatches, e-Books, Newspapers, Status displays, Mobile phones,Electronic shelf labels, digital photo frames, information boards.

This year at the CES from Las Vegas new applications for the electronic ink was promoted. One of them was really futuristic, the e-ink technology was combined with a bendable glass, and the result was quite impressive. The product is not finish yet, but is looking promising. Also the ink technology was combined with the smartphones, which means that the researches on this field advanced a lot, and the transitions from one image to another is now smother and faster.

Also a big display wristwatch was presented at the CES, the only thing that I really didn’t like was that the screen had to refresh every minute in order to avoid the ghosting effect.


I’m looking forward to see how this technology will advance and if the conventional screens will be replaced with e-ink ones.

Source: wikipedia

Leave a Reply