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October 31, 1999

IBM Takes Another Step Towards E-Paper

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp has developed a thin flexible transistor that could be used as the development basis of electronic paper – flexible screens for carrying information. IBM mocked-up some plastic newspaper-like displays earlier this year. The plastic transistor combined with electronic ink could provide a medium for updateable information screens that could be rolled up and carried around.

In the journal Nature, IBM researchers said that they had developed flexible transistors made out of very thin layers of the organic compound phenethylammonium combined with tin oxide that can be laid down on plastic. The transistors conduct electricity at much lower heat levels than amorphous silicon displays, meaning that a flexible plastic mounting can be used. The manufacturing process is also much cheaper and can be done at room temperature.

However, IBM is not the only company working on electronic paper. Lucent Technologies Inc and E Ink Corp are also developing an electronic display using plastic transistors from Bell Labs and ‘electronic ink’ from E Ink. Neither company is prepared to hazard a guess on when electronic paper might migrate from the labs to market.

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