South China Morning Post
) reports that the dream of flexible, powerless displays that can roll up and fit in a pocket is bought closer to reality by major advances in materials and chemicals, with elements of nanotechnology also being employed. The result is super-thin sheets of plastic that have a few key properties:
- they reflect natural light, which means they do not require any added light source to read, much like ink on paper
- they are bi-stable, which means once the power is off, the image remains unchanged. You only need power to change the image
- they are so thin that they can be rolled up like normal paper.
But engineers and developers are being cautious about over-hyping. "People have been using paper for thousands of years. We'll never be cheaper than paper, and we won't meet paper quality any time soon," said Amy Chen, vice-president of business development at SiPix Technologies in Taiwan, one of the developers of the plastic film that will one day make e-paper possible.
Lee Cheng-chung, deputy director of flat-panel display technology at Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (Itri), said his institute was working on e-paper and he predicted it would be eight to 10 years before roll-up displays would be ready for widespread use.