MURRAY HILL, N.J. and CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) and E Ink Corporation announced today a joint development agreement that aims to move electronic books and newspapers resembling flexible plastic sheets one step closer to reality.
The two companies plan to develop "electronic paper," which would be the first flexible, plastic electronic display entirely made with a process similar to ink-on-paper printing, rather than the more costly silicon-chip manufacturing process. The same technology, which allows for instantaneous updating via computer link, also may lead to ultra-thin, lightweight displays for next-generation consumer electronics, such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants.
The key elements of electronic paper would be plastic transistors, developed at Lucent's Bell Labs, which have the same properties as conventional silicon chips but are flexible and can be printed, and E Ink's electronic ink. Electronic ink is comprised of millions of tiny microcapsules filled with a dark dye and light pigment. When charged by the electric field created by the plastic transistors, the microcapsules will change color and create images.
The objective of the Lucent/E Ink collaboration is to print the plastic transistors onto a flexible plastic film coated with electronic ink. "Our goal is to make a paper-like film that is as flexible and easy to read as ink on paper," says Bell Labs researcher Pierre Wiltzius. Bell Labs researchers printed the world's first plastic transistor two years ago on transparency-like film with a silk-screening technique, similar to printing designs on T-shirts.
"We see this collaboration with Lucent as a way to demonstrate how electronic ink and printed transistors can revolutionize traditional paper media. This effort is a natural extension of the successes we've had at E Ink in our growth as a company," said Paul Drzaic, director of E Ink's display technology division.
Earlier this year, E Ink conducted the first public viewing of an electronic ink display. The company's large area Immediaä signs are currently being tested in several retail settings. Immedia displays, which are more readable and less expensive than LED or LCD displays, will be available for purchase early next year.
While the electronic components of today's electronic ink displays are based on conventional silicon technology, electronic ink is highly compatible with Lucent's plastic transistors.
"We're excited to be able to combine Lucent and E Ink technologies in a way that could enable truly revolutionary devices," Drzaic said.
Lucent Technologies, headquartered in Murray Hill, N.J., designs, builds and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, data networking systems, business telephone systems and microelectronics components. Bell Laboratories is the research and development arm for the company. For more information on Lucent Technologies, visit the company's web site at http://www.lucent.com or the Bell Labs web site at http://www.bell-labs.com. For more technical information about plastic transistor research at Bell Labs, please visit http://www.bell-labs.com/org/physicalsciences/projects/plastic/plastic.html
E Ink Corporation, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., was founded in 1997 to commercialize unique electronic displays. The company has developed a proprietary "electronic ink" that provides significant advantages over traditional flat panel technologies. Electronic ink displays possess unique properties such as flexibility, ultra-thinness and larger sizes when compared to traditional displays. When exposed to an electronic signal, the electronic ink changes color to provide revolutionary display capabilities. The company's Immedia display products can be updated remotely and offer a contrast equivalent to printed media. E Ink is a private corporation whose investors include Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Creavis GmbH (NYSE: VEB), The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG), The Hearst Corporation, Atlas Venture, Applied Technology and Solstice Capital. For more information about E Ink, please visit http://www.eink.com.
The above story is based on materials provided by Bell Labs - Lucent Technologies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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