Wafer-Thin Color Displays for Packaging

October 7, 2005
Wafer-Thin Color Displays for Packaging

Color displays may one day be used practically everywhere. And this would be possible even where it’s unprofitable today for cost reasons, such as on food cartons, medicine packaging or admission tickets. At the Plastics Electronics trade fair in Frankfurt, Siemens developers exhibited extremely thin, miniature color displays that can be printed onto paper or foil. And the displays can be produced at very low cost compared to LCD panels. The first displays will become available on the market in 2007.

The displays show information about products, or even operating instructions for devices, directly on the packaging. A pillbox, for example, could display instructions for how it should be taken and provide this information in several languages with the push of a button. Admission tickets for trade shows could indicate the booths where various exhibitors are located. It’s also conceivable that small computer games will be on packages or that equipment boxes will display animations that give users step-by-step operating instructions when a button is pushed.

The flexible miniature displays operate using electrochromic substances, materials that change their color when an electrical voltage shifts charges in their molecules. As a result, the molecules absorb different wavelengths than in their original state. The display consists of a electrochromic material holding a pattern of electrodes. A conductive plastic foil serves as the other electrode and the transparent window. To date, the engineers have been using silicon switching elements to control the device. The objective now is to use a printing process to manufacture the entire display, including the appropriate control electronics, from conductive and semiconducting plastics.

Scientists from Siemens Corporate Technology and Automation and Drives are currently optimizing materials that react so quickly that the displays can also show moving pictures. A partner company is already working on integrating the displays into the packaging and production process.

The displays can obtain their energy from printable batteries, which are already available. Because they last only a few months, this solution is only feasible for merchandise with high throughput rates or short-use durations. It may also prove feasible to use printed antennas as a local energy source. They would receive pulses from a transmitter in the shelf and convert the pulses into electricity. The packaging, with the displays, can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner as a composite material.

Explore further: Vortex robot wants to join kids for play and programming

Related Stories

Vortex robot wants to join kids for play and programming

July 10, 2015

You can't argue with doting parents. From yesterday's huggable teddy bears to fingerpaint sets to today's cute spaceman robots, they easily conclude there is always room for one more toy. This time around, a robot called ...

ESA astronauts prepare for underwater training

July 7, 2015

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is to lead NASA's 20th underwater astronaut training mission this month. Starting on 20 July, the 14-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations sortie, or NEEMO, will see a team of four living ...

Musio: Your AI friend in back-and-forth exchange

June 2, 2015

Many people have hardly reached saturation point in being drawn to videos of cute robots that avoid the uncanny-valley risk of looking uncomfortably human; instead they cross the lines between cute animal pets and cartoonish ...

Fonkraft modular smartphone makes crowdfunding debut

April 29, 2015

Many smartphone ads start their promotions stating their distinctive looks and novel features but save the phone's battery life stats for last. Fonkraft's video abandons the formula and rushes to the point.

The robot that learns everything from scratch

June 8, 2015

Two researchers at NTNU have made a robot that learns like a young child. At least, that's the idea. The machine starts with nothing—it has to learn everything from scratch.

Recommended for you

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.