In an introduction that could radically change the way the world looks at paper, Irish startup, NTERA today debuted a nanotechnology to cost-effectively mass produce electronic displays on a vast array of paper, packaging, ticket and/or greeting card products. The technology, which is already being market-tested in Europe, allows color displays to be printed on almost any traditional printed product at low cost and with minimal power requirements.
Working on a similar principle to how automotive mirrors are able to darken in response to light stimulus, an NTERA NanoChromics(TM) display deploys an array of electrodes made of a metal oxide semiconductor mounted on a flexible film that allows it to produce images with a resolution equivalent to conventional inkjet print resolutions.
When electrochromic molecules are attached to a film of semiconducting nanoparticles, it effectively creates a film that is several hundreds of electrochromic molecules layers thick. A charge applied through the semiconducting particles causes the molecules at the surface to be charged and thus change color. Because the film is many particle layers thick, the optical change, barely detectable in only one layer of particles, is dramatic. Adding an opaque white layer behind the electrochromic layer as background to the images makes these displays even more vivid. Like printed text on paper, NCD displays can be viewed clearly from virtually any angle and under a wide range of lighting conditions.
NCD displays require only a fraction of the power of LCD displays to maintain the image.
NTERA NanoChromics technology is translatable to virtually any kind of printable surface. Applied using NTERA's NanoChromics Ink Systems, which enable cost-effective manufacturing of printed electronic (PE), NCD displays on a variety of flexible substrate materials using industry standard screen printing, flexo and inkjet printing techniques and equipment, the printable nature of NCD displays will create ubiquity throughout numerous markets and product categories.
Dr. David Corr, NTERA President and CEO explains.
Printed electronics is being redefined beyond the printing of conductive traces and electrochemical materials to the more elaborate construction of multi-layered components such as batteries, diodes, transistors, memory, solar cells and displays, ... You once had to attach a display to an energy source, using the printed circuits as the conductors; with printed electronics technologies the entire device completely printed. The possibilities of combining an all-printed multi-layered system with the economies of scale from an established manufacturing infrastructure are rather incredible.
NTERA NCD display technology differs from that of the liquid crystal display (LCD) in significant ways. Where an LCD requires a constant electric charge to maintain its image, an NCD image requires electrically charging a material to change its color. Using a charge-storing layer as a source of energy for the electrochromic material lets an NCD image remain active for as long as several hours. As a result, NTERA technology has extremely low power requirements as low as 0.5 volts for activation, as color changes in the displays are triggered at voltages below 1V DC. This will significantly extend the useful lifetime and portability of NCD displays, making them extremely cost-effective. The NCD display's low power requirements will enable use of highly-efficient power storage and energy harvesting solutions. These include conventional and printed batteries, conventional and printed solar cells, as well as radio frequency systems. The NCD display is itself a capacitor, able to hold sufficient energy to maintain an image for an extended period.
The ability to print low-power electro-optical displays on virtually any type of item, using existing industrial printing infrastructure, heralds a new dimension of interaction between people and information. Features such as cost-effective manufacturing, simple integration with a myriad of other products, extremely low power consumption and color-change capability set NTERA's technology and processes apart from that of any competitor. NTERA's complete compatibility with existing printing technologies and platforms will allow its licensees to reap the full benefit of manufacturing economies of scale.
NTERA is the leading developer of advanced, fully printable electrochromic materials enabling display and color change applications for Smart Cards, Smart Packaging, and Smart Objects. NTERA's NanoChromics(TM) Ink Systems enable very low cost manufacturing of printed electronic displays on a variety of flexible substrate materials using industry standard printing techniques and equipment. These ultra-thin, sunlight-readable, low power NCD displays can be integrated into any number of products, including plastic cards, packaging, smart labels, RFID systems, greeting cards, toys and games, and consumer electronic devices. NTERA is based in suburban Philadelphia, PA USA, with research and development facilities in Dublin, Ireland.