E-paper uses ten times less power than LED displays

colours created by flexible electronic paper top developed by Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Photo: Mats Tiborn

Researchers in Sweden have introduced a type of electronic paper capable of consuming less power than a Kindle tablet and offering all the colours of an LED display.

The ‘e-paper’ displays present the full colour spectrum (using the same red-blue-green system of other electronic displays) and use approximately ten times less energy than a Kindle tablet. Developed by researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology, the electronic paper incorporates conductive polymers deposited on a nanostructured surface making it less than one micrometre thin and bendable. The team also say the displays can also provide a quality viewing experience in a highly illuminated environment as its polymer-coated surface controls how light is absorbed and reflected. Signals are transmitted through the material in a controlled manner to create high resolution images.

“The paper is similar to the Kindle tablet,” said Chalmers researcher Andreas Dahlin, co-creator of the e-paper with PhD student Kunli Xiong. “It isn’t lit up like a standard display, but rather reflects the external light which illuminates it. Therefore it works very well where there is bright light, such as out in the sun.”

Although offering considerable savings when it comes to power, savings aren’t currently possible when it comes to cost as precious metals are amongst the materials needed to create the paper. Dahlin states that despite the e-paper measuring only 20 nanometres in thickness, and currently “a lot” of gold is wasted in the manufacturing process. “Either we reduce the waste or we find another way to decrease the manufacturing cost.”

Researchers say they have only created a few pixels to date, but once they progress to covering larger surfaces with the polymers have high hopes that the paper could eventually replace outdoor information screens and signs that are not yet electronic due to its energy efficiency.

Source: Engineering & Technology