Saturday, March 29, 2008

BPN 1052 Electrowetting from lab to production in 2008

Liquavista BV, a display manufacturing company based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands has secured 8 mln. euro to start its production of ColorMatch™-based products this year. Displays produced on the principle of electrowetting will move now from the lab into industrial production.

In the past years digital paper has changed displays drastically. The readability and power management have offered new opportunities. Liquavista is producing displays on the principle of electrowetting. The principle of electrowetting works differently from digital paper. In this digital paper display the film contains plastic spheres, which is the ink and according to the charge the symbols and grey scale changes. Electrowetting works on the principle of a film which contains water and oil and changes the symbols and colour scales according to the electronic charge. But the advantage of electrowetting is that the displays have been developed to use conventional LCD substrates. In fact, more than 90% of the manufacturing cycle use standard LCD manufacturing equipment and processes. A proprietary low cost, scalable fill process, performed at the bipane level, and patented by Liquavista, improves further on the standard LCD manufacturing cycle. Electrowetting displays use conventional modularisation, integration and drive techniques.

The major advantage is the colour scales and is video capable. (Digital paper is so far black/white and not capable of video). Besides it Liquavista displays are said to have very low power consumption in static and video modes and is bright in all viewing conditions, preserving colour saturation and contrast. It has unlimited view angles, without colour distortion and is capable of high resolution. The technology is robust (no water will spill on clothing).

The technology is in fact a step further than digital paper. It has a high readability, clear viewing in all lighting conditions, from a dimly lit office environment to the bright light of a sunny day and uses power management. But the colour scales and video capability will enable new displays and applications, ranging from watches, mobile phones and digital cameras to notebook computers as well as MP3 and DVD players and automotive applications.
In fact electrowetting has the potential to change to transform the whole display industry. But the technology is also interesting for the users. It is tailor-made for mobile multimedia devices, where users really care about long battery life and daylight viewability. People will use premium services on mobile devices much more if they are not concerned about running the battery down, so providers of software, services and networks will also win.

As the technology is largely based on standard LCD fabrication processes, the company can follow a very rapid path to achieve volume production. The company is currently installing its first production unit with an LCD partner in China to complement its process development facility in Eindhoven.

Liquavista was founded in 2006 by a team which originates from Philip Research Labs in Eindhoven. The spin-off company is now financially backed by Philips, New Venture Partners, GIMV and Amadeus. Early applications, which enable bright vibrant colours in simple displays, are expected to enter the market in 2008.

Blog Posting Number: 1052

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