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Individual EFD display pixels, with center pigment reservoir  (Source: UC)
Display produces colors similar to those in print magazines

Digital readers commercially available in the U.S. today all use black and white screens in their e-paper displays. So far there has not been a color screen reader released in the States which can display pages with the color spectrum of a printed magazine (though there has been in Japan). Some researchers believe that colors screens could be the key to taking e-readers to the mainstream user.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have made a breakthrough in electrofluidic display technology (EFD) that could lead to e-readers with true color screens. The breakthrough allows better manipulation of the appearance of pigments via electric switching to produce colors.  The result is a better display, with visual brilliance similar to that of printed media.

The research team says that the EFD technology they have developed could potentially provide better than 85% white-state reflectance. The 85% white-state reflectance is said to be the performance level required for consumers to accept reflective display applications.

UC researcher and professor of electrical engineering Jason Heikenfeld said, "If you compare this technology to what’s been developed previously, there’s no comparison. We’re ahead by a wide margin in critical categories such as brightness, color saturation, and video speed."

The pixel structure of the EFD screen created by the researchers has the ability to reveal or hide pigments with high contrast and video quality speeds. A small reservoir in the center if each pixel holds the pigments until it needs to be displayed.

The breakthrough could one day lead to devices like the Amazon Kindle II with color screens. Heikenfeld said, "This takes the Amazon Kindle, for example, which is black and white, and could make it full color. So now you could take it from a niche product to a mainstream product."

Another nice feature of the screen developed by the researchers is that the optically active layer can be under 15 microns thick, making rollable displays possible, in turn allowing the EFD to be used in diverse products. The researchers see possible uses for the technology in electronic windows and cases for mobile phones and other electronics that can be color tuned at the user's will.

Heikenfeld continued saying, "The ultimate reflective display would simply place the best colorants used by the printing industry directly beneath the front viewing substrate of a display. In our EFD pixels, we are able to hide or reveal colored pigment in a manner that is optically superior to the techniques used in electrowetting, electrophoretic and electrochromic displays."

The research is being published in a paper "Electrofluidic displays using Young–Laplace transposition of brilliant pigment dispersions" and has been underway for several years. To expedite the commercialization of the technology a new company called Gamma Dynamics has been founded with Heikenfeld as principal scientist. Funding for the research was provided by Sun Chemical, Polymer Vision, the National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Research partners with UC included Sun Chemical, Polymer Vision, and Gamma Dynamics.

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RE: what happened to flexible OLEDs?
By semo on 5/1/2009 6:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
This is the reason why ereaders have not become more mainstream and cheaper. Article after article about those devices expose people's misunderstanding about the technology.

It’s not the device that it revolutionary, it's the display. It is like reading a book... there is no backlighting. Wherever you are, if you can read a book, you can read these devices. The display doesn't draw any power once you've turned a page so you can stare at one page for days.

It’s not meant to be
touch sensitive
show movies, play music
let you write emails/novels/whatever
an internet browser
a games console

It’s meant to allow you to carry many books in one device and let you read them for long periods of time without hurting your eyes. eReaders are more portable then books. And the major thing about eraders... E-ink. That’s all. This thing could really help me to read stuff on the bus but I find the flashing after each page turn to be distracting if not annoying. For £200+ I want more.

RE: what happened to flexible OLEDs?
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 5/1/2009 10:49:36 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think I'll ever need an e-book. I believe it will be one of those high tech products that allow people to keep doing things the old way even though there are newer, easier, and more productive ways to learn or be entertained than through books. The younger generation will accomplish those things through different methods than books. Even if the books are e-books.

Of course that's not to say that big government won't step in and subsidize the industry by requiring all school students to have e-books. Thus making e-books superior than other more truly productive products that would've been superior if the playing field were level.

By paydirt on 5/12/2009 12:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
If you don't read, then you won't see a need for e-readers. If you get content through only through video or audio, you won't see a need for e-readers.

Some people do an immense amount of reading: either for leisure or work. I read 4 hours a day at work and would rather read something that is either printed or e-ink than be staring into a lit display.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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