Evolution of E-Paper

I know that many of you have already seen Karl Fisch’s "Did You Know – Shift Happens" presentation.  One of the items contained in that presentation is the assertion that e-paper will become cheaper than traditional paper.

I ran across an article, Paper Chase, in the Economist on June 15 that elaborates upon the technology that is driving the development of e-paper.

Just imagine the possibilities . . . a newspaper that is constantly updating via RSS-type feeds, portable Pageflakes/Netvibes style personalized data streams, interactivity . . . no more lugging the laptop, projector, etc. to make your sales pitch or present at a conference . . .

While this might sound a bit like the "paper" Neal Stephenson wrote about in The Diamond Age or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, it is becoming much more of a reality than a figment  of the nanotech imaginings of a cyberpunk science fiction author.

Paper Chase heralds a new e-paper project being launched by Sony that might make even the iPhone seem outmoded.   According to the article:

Sony’s latest announcement promises to bring e-paper even closer to everyday use. This time the device appears to be a home-grown development. Unlike the electrophoretic displays used in E-Ink’s products, which rely on charged particles being physically moved by an electric field, Sony’s new imaging device uses an organic electroluminescence display (OLED). Such displays emit light in response to an electric current or field being passing through them.


OLEDs generally use a glass substrate, or backing material. But Sony has found a way of forming the organic transistors for switching the pixels on and off on a flexible plastic substrate. The 2.5-inch prototype is little thicker than a sheet of actual paper and weighs about the same without its associated electronics.

  Don’t expect such a clever innovation to be wasted on something as prosaic as a portable reader for e-books. Apple’s multimedia iPhone may be the gadget du jour, but Sony may trump it with an all-singing-and-dancing gizmo, built around a foldable display for downloading television, which can run for days without recharging.

It is really fascinating to watch how science fiction becomes reality . . . more on Neal Stephenson and his cyberpunk writings translated into modern technology to come.


Related posts