New e-Display Technology Brings Low Power Requirement of E-ink to Color Displays

Submitted by lalit on October 10, 2010 - 9:40pm.

University of Cincinnati has developed a new display technology that combines best of both the worlds, low power requirement of E-ink technology with faster response time and color saturation of LCD screens. The new display uses eletrofluidic technology and is called “zero-power” e-Display.

In the zero-power display, behind the glass screen are two layers of liquid (oil and a pigment dispersion fluid like an inkjet fluid). Between the two layers are reflective electrodes. Think of these electrodes as a highly reflective mirror. Ambient light enters through the display screen and through the first layer of liquid and hits the reflective electrodes. When the light hits that reflective electrode, it bounces back out to the viewer’s eye, creating the perception of a bright, color-saturated image or text or video.

A small electric charge powers the movement of these oil and pigment-dispersion liquids.  The movement occurs between a bottom layer behind the reflective electrodes and a top layer in front of the reflective electrodes. When the pigmented substance is positioned in the “top” layer (sandwiched between the ambient light and reflective electrodes), it creates a reflected ray of colored light which combines with literally millions of ambient light rays to produce a full-color display.

According to UC’s Jason Heikenfeld, the closest competition with similar brightness is electrochromic technology, which does not switch quickly enough to create video images. And the closest competition that is really low power but can still “do” video is called “Mirasol” technology developed by Quallcomm. However, when trying to display a color like white, the “Mirasol” technology has about one-third the brightness level of the UC technology being announced today. “Mirasol,” in fact, resembles greyed newsprint.

University of Cincinnati has partnered with Gamma Dynamics for development of e-Display technology. They expect the new displays to come to the market within three years, initially used for grocery-store shelf labels and advertising displays. Use of the new e-Display technology in devices like tablets and cellphones should start within 3-5 years. You can get more information about the new display technology on University of Cincinnati’s website.