, an Ireland-based developer of nanomaterials with manufacturing operations in Taiwan and Ireland, announced the availability of its NanoChromics display technology at the DEMO 2005 show
The company's proprietary NanoChromics display (NCD) contains a reflective layer made of a nanostructured film of titanium dioxide – the chemical used to make paper white. This creates a solid white background with the appearance, reflectivity and contrast of a high quality, printed paper sign. Like a real paper sign, the display is readable at very acute angles. Electrochromic viologen molecules in front of the reflective background give the visual effect of ink on paper when colored and of pure white paper when bleached. Different colors are produced using different viologens. Because viologens are able to attach in high numbers to a nanostructured cathode with a very large surface area, strong coloration is achieved. Past attempts to use electrochromic effects in display applications suffered from both weak coloration and long switching times. With NCD technology, the electrochromic viologen molecules are bound to the surface of the nanostructured cathode, meaning they can be switched very rapidly from colorless to colored and vice versa.
Power consumption of the NCD is reduced by eliminating the need for backlighting; plus, the displays' 1V DC operation is currently the lowest drive voltage of any bistable technology (bistable means that power is only required for image updating, resulting in reduced power consumption).
Built on existing LCD lines, NanoChromics displays will have the optical qualities of the printed page, specifically high brightness and contrast over a wide range of viewing angles and a "paper-white" background. Potential applications for NCD technology include in-store pricing systems, public and advertising signage, mobile communications, and electronic paper and books. George Powlick, manager of one of the venture capital firms invested in NTERA, said: "The compelling advantages of NTERA's display technology, combined with the ability to produce the displays NanoChromics on existing LCD manufacturing lines, has already enabled it to secure significant customer interest. We look forward to working with the company’s management team to maximise in exploiting its potential."
At the DEMO 2005 show, the company showed off an iPod with a modified NCD screen; it definitely exceeded the original iPod in crisp- and brightness. However, how long it'll take for this amazing technology to make it into mainstream mobile audio players, handhelds and e-book readers is still a big unknown.