LG is quietly refining their flexible e-paper technology and has actually seen some commercial success along the way. New innovations will pave the way for super large screen displays that will transcend into the television arena.
In 2012 LG first entered the flexible e-paper arena and developed a screen that was crafted from a flexible plastic substrate, the display measuring 0.03 inches (0.7 millimeters) thick and weighs 0.5 ounces (13 grams), making it one-third slimmer and half the weight of currently available glass EPD devices. LG also has made it fairly durable with it being able to easily withstand dropping it from up to six feet. The battery life is also fairly amazing with two or three months of usage. Russian based e-reader company Wexler was the only company to adopt the LG technology into their Flex One.
LG has just announced a massive, 18-inch OLED display that can be rolled up into a tight cylinder with a radius of just 3 centimeters (1.2 inches). In addition, LG has mentioned they developed a version that was highly transparent.
The flexible 18-inch OLED display has a fairly paltry resolution that clocks in at 1280×810. The main breakthrough seems to be the use of polyimide for the display’s backplane. Polyimides are strong, flexible plastics that are already used extensively in the electronics industry — for example in the ribbon that attaches a laptop’s display to the motherboard, which is put through huge stresses during thousands of open/close cycles. LG says it achieved “maximum curvature radius” because polyimide allowed for a much thinner and flexible backplane than “conventional plastic.”
Truly flexible e-paper technology that can be rolled up, able to be read and folded up again is the holy grail. It not only can be used in the e-reader sector, but also smartwatches and advertising. The one hindrance in mass adoption is the fact the motherboards, battery, processor, RAM and most other internal components are not designed to be flexible and this will require a monumental effort by the entire supply chain to make a future of flexible e-paper a reality.
Update LG Display, as the first in the industry, showcased a full 5.3 inch HD liquid crystal display (LCD) for smart phones with a bezel thinner than a credit card ( 0.7mm). LG Display will start mass-production next month and will supply this product preferentially to the customers in China where the demand for large-screen smart phones is high.
Neo Edge technology is to completely seal the entire surface and also the edges of an LCD module rather than attaching panel drive board and backlight using a double-sided tape. As it does not involve the usage of plastic guide panels for panel and backlight attachment, bezel width can be minimized. In addition, according to LG Display, Neo Edge technology prevents light leaks and also provides dust and waterproofing functions.
Moreover, as the exposed sides of glass are sealed off with adhesives, it solves the problem of corrosion on the rims of LCD. At the same time, with elasticity generated as adhesives harden, strength, which was pointed out as a shortcoming of thin bezels, has been improved
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.