Lucent Technologies Inc. and E Iare collaborating on a futuristic product that the two companies describe as electronic paper, which could become a new format for the printing and distribution of newspapers and books.
The electronic paper would actually be flexible plastic sheets made through a process similar to ink-on-paper printing, Lucent said in a statement. The plastic sheets would be covered by plastic transistors developed at Lucent's Bell Labs that have the same properties as conventional silicon chips, but are flexible and can be printed onto plastic.
E Ink's electronic ink, the other key component of electronic paper, is made of millions of tiny microcapsules filled with dark dye and light pigment that change color to form images when charged by the electric field created by the plastic transistors.
The electronic paper could be instantaneously updated with the latest edition of a newspaper or other traditionally printed media through a computer link, Lucent said. The same technology could also be used to create wafer-thin screen displays for digital products such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants.
Two years ago, Bell Labs researchers demonstrated a silk screen tehchnique that printed a plastic transistor on transparent film. The goal of the collaboration is to produce a paper-like film that is as flexible and easy to read as ink on paper, Bell Labs researcher Pierre Wiltzius said in the statement.
E Ink is currently testing an electronic ink technology in its large-area Immedia signs, which are being used in several retail settings. The Immedia displays, which are cheaper than LED or LCD displays, will be available next year. The displays are based on silicon chips, but E Ink says electronic ink is compatible with Lucent's plastic transistors.