Physicist to reveal secrets behind hi-tech TV screens
Unthought-of applicationsTECHNOLOGY EDITOR CHRIS GARDNER
The man whose work led to the development of flat panel television screens says it will be three or four years before paper-thin screens that can be rolled up will appear in homes.
Sir Richard Friend, a Cambridge University physics professor who will speak at Waikato University tonight, has worked on giving organic polymers, normally fashioned into plastic, the same electronic properties used in digital displays and solar cells to create flexible television and computer screens.
The paper-thin screens in development can be rolled up and put in your pocket. Documents can be projected onto them from a smartphone, such as an Android phone, an Apple iPhone or a Windows Phone.
The work is not unique as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft have shown they were working on such technology in public relations videos for years.
"If you have a Samsung (Android) smart phone it does not have a liquid crystal display but an organic light emitting diode display, but they are not flexible," Sir Richard said.
Sir Richard, knighted for his services to physics in 2003, said his work was among the first to be commercialised.
Sir Richard, the 2012 Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker, said Cambridge University found Plastic Logic already had manufacturing capability and was looking for opportunities. A sister company, Cambridge Display Technology, was expected to use the technology in mobile applications, televisions and lighting.
"It's a flexible display that makes a really good e-reader," he said. "At the moment Plastic Logic has not got anything that you can buy in the shop, but it's almost at that point. In the next three or four years I would say there will be a huge amount in the market."
Sir Richard said the technology would likely be used for a variety of unthought-of applications.
"When you get into this sort of work, you have to take a global view."
Sir Richard is speaking at the Dr John Gallagher Concert Chamber, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, at Waikato University at 7.30pm tonight.
He will tell the story of the unplanned discoveries and breakthroughs that have led to the development of the technology. His talk will start with basic research on plastic semiconductors through to his experiences of the commercialisation of his team's ideas.
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