By Maria Vetrano
With over 25 years of experience in the technology industry, Sri Peruvemba, CMO of CLEARink Displays, is a longtime advocate of electronic display technology. During his presentation at FLEX and MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress 2019, February 18-21 in Monterey, Calif., Peruvemba will explain recent innovations in electronic paper (ePaper) that will open new applications to reflective displays for the first time.
SEMI: ePaper has been around for more than a decade. How has it evolved for wearables and mobile devices?
Peruvemba: ePaper in its current form provides a reflective display that is low power and sunlight-readable to applications such as eReaders and electronic shelf labels (ESLs), both of which are in mass production. There is a much larger opportunity, however, for reflective displays that offer color and video atop the traditional benefits of ePaper. Now possible through electrophoretic total internal reflection (eTIR) – which we have termed ePaper 2.0 – is a low-power technology that allows devices to work for days instead of hours. eTIR offers sunlight readability as well as full color and video-level switching speeds, which satisfies the diverse requirements of wearables and mobile devices.
New electrophoretic total internal reflection (eTIR) display technology uses the charged particles in a fluid to modulate the total internal reflected light from the optical structures incorporated into its novel reflector film. Image courtesy of CLEARink Displays.
SEMI: How do you define a “reflective display?”
Peruvemba: A display that reflects external light to its advantage is a reflective display. This includes the display that uses ambient light rather than a backlight and one that uses the sun rather than fights it.
SEMI: Where is there a larger opportunity for reflective displays that offer color and video over the traditional benefits of ePaper?
Peruvemba: While most of us are familiar with ePaper in applications such as eReaders and wearables that need sunlight readability, there is an untapped market in the wearables space for applications that require internet browsing and color, even video, displays. ESLs are a good example. Retailers are no longer content to show prices. They also want to show specials, display color ads, and run video and animation to enhance product differentiation. Displays in tablets, digital signage and automotive are additional targets.
SEMI: How large is the opportunity?
Peruvemba: The electronic display industry has been trying to build reflective displays that are low-power color and video for many years but without success. Hence, the opportunity is in the tens of billions of U.S. dollars in outdoor signs, automotive displays, tablets, wearables, shelf labels and dozens of others products.
SEMI: What will it take for manufacturers to migrate from LCD or OLED to eTIR?
Peruvemba: The good news is that implementation is pretty much the same as with the LCD or OLED displays currently in use. The interfaces, connections and form factors remain form-, fit-, function-compatible. Only the software/waveforms and drive voltages will change/reduce. This allows the manufacture of our tech., ePaper 2.0, on the old LCD lines that are already in use. You can literally go back and forth between ePaper 2.0 and LCD on a day-to-day basis. This differs from other eTIR implementations, which require new dedicated manufacturing lines that cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.
SEMI: Are there other emerging markets that are particularly well-matched to eTIR?
Peruvemba: Tablet devices designed for long use on a single charge, mobile devices including wearables for outdoor applications, Internet of Things (IoT) devices that need high ambient readability, and very low-power and unobtrusive displays in home or office settings represent other emerging markets.
SEMI: What technical obstacles have hindered ePaper in certain markets – and how do you overcome those obstacles?
Peruvemba: Bringing a display technology to market is not only about solving technical and process hurdles. It is also about finding the right one percent of the applications that your technology can uniquely address. Success requires developing the ecosystem of subcomponent suppliers and peripheral technology providers (like touch and front lights). Partnering with the display fabs that can mass-produce your technology is another important step.
With most emerging technologies, the pursuit of the right customer is the bigger challenge, but for us it has been getting the product into production. Fortunately, we already have customers that have invested in the company and have committed to product volume, so they get early access to our technology.
SEMI: What would you like FLEX and MSTC attendees to take away from your presentation?
Peruvemba: Now just months away from deploying our eTIR technology as ePaper 2.0, we welcome partnership inquiries as we seek to implement eTIR across a range of previously unserved and underserved display markets.
Sri Peruvemba will present ePaper 2.0 — Creating New Markets at FLEX/MSTC on Tuesday, February 19 at 2:45 pm
Register today to connect with him at the event. To learn more about CLEARink Displays, click here.
MSTC FLEX 2019 is organized by MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG) and FlexTech.