Electronic paper, or e-paper is making great technological advances, but what exactly is it and how does it work?
What is Electronic Paper?
Electronic paper is also known as e-paper and is a technology designed to imitate the look and style of ordinary ink and paper. E-paper reflects light just as ordinary paper does, unlike the usual flat-panel display that is lit with a backlight to illuminate pixels.
Electronic paper was first developed in the 1970s by Nick Sheridon at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. The first electronic paper, called Gyricon, consisted of polyethylene spheres between 20 and 100 micrometres across.
E-paper comprises two different parts: the first is electronic ink, sometimes referred to as the "frontplane"; and the second is the electronics required to generate the pattern of text and images on the e-ink page, called the "backplane".
Several different technologies are involved in the production of e-paper, some use plastic substrate and electronics to make the display flexible, this makes it more comfortable to read that traditional displays and gives it a stable image, so you don't have to refresh it constantly. Though it's light and durable the color representation is still somewhat limited.
Applications of ePaper
There are several uses of electronic paper that can be seen or even purchased today. Here are some examples:
Electronic price tags used in retail outlets
Bus/Train station timetables
Lucent's new E Ink device shows how the future of ePaper is coming. The technology uses electronic ink and combines thin, plastic, flexible transistors with polymer LEDs to create smart pixels. The process involved uses silicon rubber stamps to print minute computer circuits onto the surface. For display, E Ink uses electronic ink: a liquid plastic substance made up of millions of tiny capsules filled with light and dark dyes that change color when exposed to an electric charge. This device will be completely flexible like paper (without the easy tearing or crumpling) and can display changing text or image.
Advantages of Electronic
The benefits to using electronic paper are quite impressive. Here are some of the advantages of using the technology:
Inexpensive to manufacture
- The technology is reusable and can be written over
- Information to be displayed is downloaded through a connection to a computer or a cell phone
- In the future it could be used to hold libraries and electronic newspapers which would be read on hand-held ePaper readers