Scientists Create New Electronic Paper That
Could Show Video
September 24, 2003
By RICK CALLAHAN, Associate Press
(AP) - Scientists have created a new type of "electronic
paper" that may one
day enable books and newspapers to show full-color movies.
Tiny dots packed in columns and rows on the paper can
change colors in just
one one-hundredth of a second, fast enough that a whole
array of these dots
could display video images, said Robert A. Hayes, a
scientist at Philips
Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
But before the movies can
begin, Hayes said
researchers need to devise
a system to control each
dot's rapid changes.
He said the first products
are three or four years
away, and would probably
have only one color at
The findings are reported
in Thursday's issue of the
"You could see this leading
to displays everywhere,
the sides of trucks with live displays on them - like Times
Square but moving,"
Robert Wisnieff, senior manager of IBM Corp.'s Advanced
Laboratory in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. "Imagine the traffic
The electronic paper is not really paper at all, but
electronics embedded in a
flexible piece of plastic as thin as a sheet of paper. It
would have to be
connected to a power source, such as a cellphone or a
The paper's display surface is four times brighter than
displays, such as those seen on mobile phones and personal
The Philips researchers developed two kinds of electronic
paper. In the first
system, each dot in the experimental paper contains water
with a single layer
of colored oil, along with an underlying transparent
electrode and white foil.
The viewer sees the color of the oil, unless an electrical
signal is applied that
moves the oil aside. That reveals the white foil
The researchers have taken that system a step further by
creating dots that
contain two layers of colored oil. Each of these dots is
divided into three
compartments, each containing combinations of cyan, magenta
or yellow oils.
Each compartment is covered by a colored filter. Its hue
depends on the
colors of the oils beneath.
These compartments can be switched independently and are
displaying a variety of colors. That is achieved by varying
which of the two
colored oils in each compartment is pushed aside or left in
Hayes said this system can display a full palette of red,
blue, green, cyan,
magenta or yellow and black along with intermediate shades.
The researchers are not the first to produce a form of
But Aris Silzars, former president of the Society of
Information Display in San
Jose, Calif., said the new material has some advantages
over other forms,
including its apparent ability to rapidly switch among a
range of colors.
If Philips researchers can overcome the technical
challenges, he said its first
use would probably be in cell phones or handheld