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Industry reports, briefs and video-clips issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

The New Age of Electronic Paper

The New Age of Electronic Paper

JEONG Dong-Young

June 16, 2009


Welcome to our video program. I'm Dong-Young Jeong from the Technology and Industry Department.

Since the Chinese scholar, Ts'ai Lun invented paper in AD 105, paper has been an important part of our lives. When the Internet became ubiquitous in the 1990s, people looked for a different type of paper on which they can not only retrieve information but write anytime and anywhere. This is when e-paper was invented.

According to industry experts, the global demand for e-book readers is expected to reach 2 million this year, growing to 11 million in 2012 and 218 million in 2020. E- paper also has wide applications. The market for e-paper applications like e-newspaper, electronic billboards, and smartcards, is expected to be worth US$130 million this year, US$260 million next year and US$7 billion by 2020. Today, we're going to take a look at the electronic paper market.

Electronic paper has a thin and soft display by using a flexible substrate so that the display can be bent or rolled. The biggest advantage of electronic paper is that it does not continuously consume electricity and can be rewritten almost semi-permanently.

The first electronic paper was “Gyricon” developed by Nick Sheridon at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center in 1975. This electronic paper consisted of polyethylene spheres between 75 and 106 microns across. Each sphere is a janus particle composed of negatively charged black plastic on one side and positively charged white plastic on the other. When an electric field is applied from the outside, an electrophoretic display forms texts and images by rearranging charged pigment particles. Development of electronic paper technology went further. In 1996 E-ink, an affiliate of MIT Media Lab developed e-paper composed of fluid-filled microcapsules and electronic paper using a cholesteric LCD afterwards.

Where and how is electronic paper being used today? Electronic paper technology, which had remained only in the lab stage for 30 years, finally came out to the market in the 2000s. There are two kinds of electronic paper, such as personal mobile devices and ubiquitous content delivery devices.

First, let's turn to personal mobile devices. In April 2004 Sony released ‘LIBRIe' the first commercially available e-book with a print like image. Sony is selling its sequel product the Sony Reader. Main customers are regular customers of airlines and office workers commuting into the city. In August 2006 iRex Technologies put out an electronic book the “iLiad” equipped with a 20.6cm display on the market. Amazon released “Kindle” in November 2007.

Let's turn to ubiquitous devices. US Kent Display systems released an e-paper using a cholesteric LCD technology. This e-paper sign consists of a content-delivery server and a display. Wireless LAN and stereo speaker systems were embedded too. Vivid colors and bendable structure are the main features of this device.

What should we do to bring e-paper closer to our daily life? Recently e-paper technology is expanding its application to many products. Many problems, however, remain to be solved. Compared with other displays like LCDs, e-paper has low brightness and slow response speed. It is also incapable of providing video streaming and is sensitive to moisture and the external environment.

To resolve these shortcomings, low temperature poly silicon is in development, which enables e-paper to enjoy video streaming service and full color visual imaging. If these developments succeed, e-books and e-newspaper with full-color imaging or video will be available.

E-books also have a bright outlook. Amazon had success with its e-book reader “Kindle.” It sold 300,000 just two months after the product was launched. Expectations over e-paper run high around the world as it is thin, light, flexible and does not consume electricity. Though Korea is a market leader in display manufacturing, it is lagging behind in flexible display development like e-paper. Korea needs to move swiftly to develop and invest in core e-paper technologies, related circuits, and components.

Thank you for watching. I'm Dong-Young Jeong.

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