Another leap in the flexi-display journey

Another leap in the flexi-display journey
Affordable flexible display technology is moving ever closer to reality as researchers at Arizona State’s Flexible Display Center (FDC) and Universal Display Corporation announce a new manufacturing process that combines PHOLED with polyethylene naphthalate.

The American research team hopes the breakthrough will drive mass-production of flexible, self-illuminated displays. Click to a view a video from the Flexible Display channel.

There’s a lot of activity in the flexible display market right now. Last week we ran a story on Nanolumens, an American company on the cusp of bringing a revolutionary flexible screen to market. Furthermore all the usual suspects, including LG, Sony, Smansung and NHK, have dipped their toe in the bendy display pool. But, the flexible OLEDS all the big companies are experimenting with are proving expensive and difficult to develop.

In contrast the FDC and Universal Display claim the technology it is developing uses a number of standard manufacturing methods making it far cheaper to produce. Furthermore the new display could be up to four times more efficient than traditional fluorescent OLED.

Video courtesy of FlexibleDisplay

The organisations say they have introduced the first a-Si:H active matrix flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display to be manufactured directly on DuPont Teijin’s polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrate. Implementing Universal Display Corporation’s phosphorescent organic light-emitting diode (PHOLED) technology and materials and the FDC’s proprietary bond-debond manufacturing technology, the 4.1-inch monochrome quarter video graphics array (QVGA) display is said to represent a significant milestone towards achieving a manufacturable solution for flexible OLEDs.

Flexible OLEDs are targeted at a number of military and commercial applications that require more rugged displays. With Universal Display’s PHOLED technology and materials, the new display is said to achieve the same brightness as traditional displays with extremely low power consumption. Also the new technology is designed to have a lower operating temperature due to less heat being generated. In addition it should be easier to drive, boast a longer battery life, and more stable transistors.

“Being a founding member of the FDC, Universal Display is pleased to see the significant progress enabled by our co-operation,” said Mike Hack, vice president of Strategic Product Development at Universal Display. “Together, the FDC and Universal Display have demonstrated technology paths which will accelerate the introduction of exciting new flexible OLED displays on plastic substrates.”

“This development of flexible AMOLED technology gives the industry a solid starting point towards manufacturing, mass production and commercialisation of flexible OLEDs,” added Shawn O’Rourke, director of engineering for the FDC. “The fact that we have achieved a functional flexible OLED manufactured directly on plastic using the Center’s manufacturing process represents a significant achievement, and continued developments over the next few years will lead to full colour, full motion video flexible displays.”

The flexible backplane display was manufactured at the FDC utilising a 180°C thin film transistor process. The FDC’s facility implements traditional flat panel and semiconductor tools and processes to achieve flexible displays, enabled by its proprietary bond-debond technology to secure the plastic substrate to a rigid carrier during manufacture.

The integration of Universal Display’s PHOLED frontplane delivers a key enabling technology for the flexible OLED. The PHOLED materials allow the OLED to convert up to 100 per cent of the electrical energy into light, as opposed to traditional fluorescent OLEDs which convert only 25 per cent, providing up to four times more energy efficiency. Universal Display integrated the FDC backplane designed for its PHOLED frontplane to produce the display.