Samsung Develops Flexible LCD Display

Samsung Electronics today said it has developed the world’s largest transmissive TFT LCD (thin-film transistor, liquid crystal display), with high enough resolution to display digital television content. The new display is double the size of Samsung’s flexible LCD display prototype announced in January 2005.

Samsung said the seven-inch, 640×480 flexible display uses a transparent plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more durable than the conventional LCD glass panels used today. Moreover, the electronics giant said the full-color transmissive LCD panel maintains a constant thickness even when it is bent.

Solving an LCD Challenge

Considered the next-generation in flat panel displays, this technology involves the use of pliable plastic instead of rigid glass substrates in TFT-LCD production. Samsung said the plastic will not break when flexed, allowing much greater freedom in commercial designs requiring flexible full-color, high-resolution display components.

ISuppli Vice President Paul Seminza told TechNewsWorld that there has been significant research conducted in the area of flexible displays. That’s because it has been a challenging problem to solve since LCDs are designed with the liquid crystal material sandwiched between two substrates.

“Typically when you flex an LCD it changes the spacing between those substrates. The spacing is important to the operation of the LCD as a whole. When you flex the display it looks different near the bend than it does at the edges,” Seminza said. “So figuring out a way to hold the spacing while enabling flexibility has been a big challenge.”

Low-Temperature Technology

With this advancement, Samsung said it has also overcome daunting problems involving the plastic substrate’s heat sensitivity including a previous challenge to maintain the display’s substrate thickness when subjected to typical commercial thermal conditions.

Samsung said it has developed a low-temperature processing technique that can be used to manufacture the display’s amorphous thin-film transistors, color filters and liquid crystals at process temperatures much lower than standard glass-based, amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology.

Drawing on technology adopted for the production of low-temperature (less than 130 degrees Celsius) a-Si TFT LCD and color filter, Samsung said its proprietary LCD technology minimizes substrate deformation by preventing not only changes in thickness but also distortion of images by binding two extremely-thin panels together through a new proprietary system design.

Targeting Mobile Displays

Samsung said the seven-inch flexible TFT-LCD is optimized for mobility applications, including cell phones and notebook computers. The company said system designers and OEMs also may apply the advanced Samsung display technology to new applications, such as fashion-enhancing or wearable electronic display designs, thanks to its differentiated flexible format.

Seminza said mobile applications make sense because mobile devices need to have a rugged nature. If the LCD display is bendable, he said, then consumers could throw it in a purse or satchel without worrying about pressure from other items damaging the display.

“We are constantly looking at how people would utilize that flexible nature,” Seminza said. “Would manufacturers make equipment that actually has curves in it, like a product that goes around your wrist or a wave shape on a cell phone? Or perhaps something that wraps around an automobile dashboard that utilizes the curve of the design? Those are all possibilities.”

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