domingo, 25 de julio de 2010

Inexpensive, Unbreakable Displays

Researchers at HP are scaling up a process for making silicon electronics on rolls of plastic.

A researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs holds a 33-centimeter-­wide roll of plastic covered with amorphous-silicon transistor arrays designed to control pixels in displays. Credit: Jen Siska
Carl Taussig unfurls a roll of silvery plastic patterned with arrays of small iridescent squares, each a few centimeters across. The plastic in his hands, along with the scraps and scrolls of the material scattered on benchtops and desks in the rooms of Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, CA, may look like silver wrapping paper, but each square contains thousands of silicon transistors. The transistors can switch pixels in displays on and off as fast as those in conventional flat-screen monitors and televisions, but they're far cheaper to fabricate and more resilient.
In today's displays, whether they're flat-panel TVs or iPads, the electronics that control the pixels are made of amorphous silicon on glass. Taussig's goal is to replace these heavy, fragile, expensive displays with lightweight, rugged, inexpensive ones made on plastic--without compromising performance. He is using high-volume roll-to-roll mechanics, the type of high-speed manufacturing process used in newspaper production, to make high-performance transistor arrays on the 33-centimeter-wide plastic rolls. HP researchers are now engineering a process for a planned pilot plant, where the company will produce the arrays at volumes of about 46,500 square meters a year through a partnership with Phicot, a manufacturer of thin-film electronics based in Ames, IA.
Jean Lucas Mendez
EES Secc 2

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