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Video-speed electronic paper based on electrowetting


In recent years, a number of different technologies have been proposed for use in reflective displays1,2,3. One of the most appealing applications of a reflective display is electronic paper, which combines the desirable viewing characteristics of conventional printed paper with the ability to manipulate the displayed information electronically. Electronic paper based on the electrophoretic motion of particles inside small capsules has been demonstrated1 and commercialized; but the response speed of such a system is rather slow, limited by the velocity of the particles. Recently, we have demonstrated that electrowetting is an attractive technology for the rapid manipulation of liquids on a micrometre scale4. Here we show that electrowetting can also be used to form the basis of a reflective display that is significantly faster than electrophoretic displays, so that video content can be displayed. Our display principle utilizes the voltage-controlled movement of a coloured oil film adjacent to a white substrate. The reflectivity and contrast of our system approach those of paper. In addition, we demonstrate a colour concept, which is intrinsically four times brighter than reflective liquid-crystal displays5 and twice as bright as other emerging technologies1,2,3. The principle of microfluidic motion at low voltages is applicable in a wide range of electro-optic devices.

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Figure 1: Electrowetting display principle.
Figure 2: Electro-optic behaviour of electrowetting display pixels.
Figure 3: Electrowetting pixel kinetics.
Figure 4: The high-brightness colour electrowetting display principle.


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We acknowledge the infrastructural support provided by the Devices, Technology & Services Department, our project colleagues and our team of students (M. Joulaud, J. Guiberteau, R. Massard, E. Morks, A.-S. Dupont, K. Girard, C. Maufrais and P. Jaulneau).

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Correspondence to Robert A. Hayes or B. J. Feenstra.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Information: This Zip file contains 6 movie files which can be downloaded and a word document giving a brief description of each movie. (ZIP 5198 kb)

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Hayes, R., Feenstra, B. Video-speed electronic paper based on electrowetting. Nature 425, 383–385 (2003).

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