Among the technological demands of an increasingly sophisticated U.S. military force is the need for futuristic computer displays. While existing flat-panel, light-emitting diodes (LED) displays are good for most commercial purposes, they may not be optimized for the modern battlefield; they could be too heavy and too fragile, for instance.
Making them more durable with protective aluminum and plexiglass casing would only add bulk and weight. Their energy consumption is also an issue in the field, where U.S. soldiers have to maximize precious battery power.
Flexible displays are an attractive alternative to existing liquid crystal display (LCD) models because they would be lighter and more durable, consume less power, and could ultimately be rolled up and stuffed in a pocket between uses. The technology needed to make such displays already exists. It is based on arraying pixels of individual red, green, and blue LEDs on top of electronic circuitry fabricated on flexible plastic substrates. A number of laboratories in the U.S. have already made experimental versions of such flexible displays.
The key challenge, says Eric Forsythe of Army Research Laboratory, is to improve the size, weight, and energy efficiency of these experimental displays and to find a design that can be easily manufactured. In Baltimore, Forsythe will discuss the latest research on organic LEDs and the U.S. Army's progress toward pilot-scale production of flexible displays with improved efficiency. Currently they have a small experimental display of 320 x 240 pixel resolution on a flexible material known as polyethylene naphthalate. He estimates that within a couple of years, a more manufacture-friendly model of a PDA-like flexible display will exist.
This research is scheduled to be presented during the 2009 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/International Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/IQEC) May 31 to June 5 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore.
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