December 29, 2003 – Leave it to the folks at Xerox subsidiary PARC — the place that gave birth to the concept of the graphical user interface, among other things — to come up with another fascinating contribution to technology. The organization’s newest brainchild: a prototype flat-panel display circuit, using a modified inkjet printer and a new polymer-based semiconductor “ink.”
The inkjet process, co-funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), patterns and prints the components of each transistor layer in a single step, instead of the multiple photolithography steps currently used. Key to the technology is a computer vision system ensuring precise measurement and placement of each layer, even if the substrate is slightly warped during the process.
The new technology is expected to work with both rigid and flexible substrates. Possible applications include wall-sized TVs, unbreakable displays for cell phones, and computer displays and electronic paper that roll up like a tube.
The PARC research, including the semiconductor polymer ink, is part of a joint R&D effort involving Xerox, Motorola Inc., and Dow Chemical Co., co-funded by NIST’s Advanced Technology Program.