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July 2005

Experimental display research featured at prestigious science event

Displays are plastic, printable -- and paper-like


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by Julian Richards

HP Labs has demonstrated its world-leading research in print-quality plastic displays at the United Kingdom's premier scientific institution, the Royal Society in London.

The HP Labs technology -- thin, plastic, printable displays -- is the only research project from an industrial research lab to be chosen for this year's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. In all, 24 scientific projects were selected for the week-long Royal Society exhibition from an entry of more than more than 100.

HP Labs' display technology is the first of its kind to bring together a number of features: it is made of flexible plastic by imprinting processes at cool temperatures; it is color and greyscale; it delivers extremely high, paper-like resolution; and it is bistable so that it holds an image indefinitely even when not connected to a power supply.

High resolution, low cost

One of the most significant advances is that the display is effectively made entirely from plastic in a printing process. This means that a commercial version would not use the expensive and complex glass-silicon manufacturing process used to make today's high-quality displays.

The display could also deliver paper-like resolution so that text would be the same quality as on a printed page, unlike today's low-resolution glass displays.

Applications for the plastic display include anything where paper would be used. Its resolution is much higher than can be found in any comparable glass-based screen. For more information, go here.

School children, scientists, others view work

During the four-day exhibition, held 4 to 7 July, Labs research team members John Rudin, Steve Kitson, Huw Robson, Eleanor Edwards, Suzanne Klein, Adrian Geisow, Chris Newton and David Sikharulidze explained their technology to hundreds of visitors.

"The exhibition was a great opportunity to present our work to a wider audience, from senior and distinguished scientists to groups of schoolchildren eager to find out more about the latest developments in science and technology," said researcher John Rudin, who organized the displays technology stand at the Royal Society. "If just one of those children went away from our stand more interested and enthused about technology as a result of seeing our project then the whole event will have been a success."

Royal Society President Lord May opened the event with the Duke of Kent. Visitors to the exhibition included hundreds of schoolchildren, the public, Royal Society Fellows and other scientists and engineers.

World's oldest scientific academy

The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific academy and has been at the forefront of enquiry and discovery since its foundation in 1660 by King Charles II.

Previous Presidents of the Royal Society include Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Christopher Wren, Lord Kelvin and Lord Rutherford. Fellows include many Nobel laureates including Einstein, Crick and Watson. An annual Summer Science Exhibition has been held since the 1800s, with projects usually invited to take part from universities.

This isn't the first project from HP Labs Bristol to be invited to take part in the Royal Society event. In 2002 Bristol cryptographic researchers demonstrated their new identity-based encryption technology.

Julian Richards handles media relations for HP Labs out of the Bristol, UK, offices.



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» More on the display research
» HP Labs Bristol
» Royal Society

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