LG’s new flexible panels herald the era of roll-up electronics

July 10, 2014
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Lg flexible display (1)

It’s 2014 and we still don’t have the flying cars and personal jetpacks we were promised, but at least we’re getting tantalizingly close to tablets and TV sets that you can roll up and carry in a tube.

LG Display announced today breakthroughs in the manufacturing of large flexible and transparent OLED panels, opening the way for the commercial production of truly flexible, see-through displays in as little as three years.

LG Display’s 18-inch flexible screen prototype uses a thin polyamide substrate that enables a curvature radius of up to 30R, meaning that the panel can be rolled around a cylinder with a 3 centimeters radius, without any negative effect on its functionality. The current prototype is just 1200 x 810 (HD), but LG is confident that it can reach Ultra HD (4K) resolution on a 60-inch panel by 2017.

Lg flexible display (2)

Also by 2017, LG Display will be able to create transparent OLED panels with a transmittance rate of 40 percent, meaning that 40 percent of light will pass through them. By comparison, current “transparent” panels have a transmittance rate of just 10 percent, while LG’s new prototype panel boasts a 30 percent rate, made possible by reducing the proportion of circuit components to just 2 percent.

Transparent LG OLED

To sum up, LG’s 2017 OLED panels may be paper thin, easy to roll up in a tube, and semi-transparent. But what does that mean for consumers?

Well, a lot depends on how the technology evolves in other areas, like circuit boards, processors, batteries, and other components. High-end TV sets are already very thin, and it shouldn’t be hard to further shrink components to allow for portable units you can carry around in tubes and hang on the wall, the way we do today with projection screens.

The task may be more challenging for smartphones and tablets. In order to make truly flexible devices a reality, researchers will have to come up with ways to drastically miniaturize and ruggedize components like SoCs, batteries, and antennas.

The current “flexible” display mobile devices, LG’s G Flex and Samsung’s Galaxy Round, are merely scratching the surface when it comes to what needs to be done in order to turn sci-fi flicks gadgets into household items. Further baby steps could come towards the end of the year, when both LG and Samsung are expected to launch new generations of their curved devices.

Show Press Release

LG Display Unveils 18-inch Flexible and Transparent OLED Panels

Seoul,  Korea  (July  10,  2014)  –  LG  Display ,  the  world’s  leading  innovator  of  display

technologies,  announced today that  it has  developed a 18-inch  flexible OLED  panel  that

is  rollable  as  well  as  a  18-inch  transparent  OLED  panel.   With  these  new  panels,  LG

Display shows  that it has already acquired fundamental technologies to lead  the  large sized flexible and transparent display market.

The flexible OLED  panel  has  a high-definition class resolution  of 1200  X 810 with almost

1 million mega-pixels.  The  panel’s  curvature  radius is 30R.   The panel can be rolled up

to  a  radius  of  3cm  without  affecting  the  function  of  the  display.   This  proves  that  LG

Display can bring rollable TVs of more than 50 inches to the market in the future.

LG Display used high molecular substance-based  polyimide film  as  the backplane of the

flexible  panel instead  of  conventional  plastic  to achieve the  maximum  curvature  radius.

The polyimide film also helped reduce  the  thickness  of the panel  to  significantly  improve

its flexibility.

As  for  the  transparent  OLED  panel,  it  boasts  30  percent  transmittance,  which  was

achieved  by  adopting  the  company’s  transparent  pixel  design  technology .   LG  Display

has  successfully  lowered  the  haze  of  the  panel  which  is  generated  by  using  circuit

devices  and  film  components  to  a  level  of  2  percent.  With  this  breakthrough

development, the company  has been  able to improve  greatly  the technology  level  of the

transparent  display.   Considering  that  the  transmittance  of  existing  transparent  LCD

panels is around 10 percent, this new panel offers significantly improved transmittance.

“LG  Display  pioneered  the  OLED  TV  market  and  is  now  leading  the  next-generation

applied  OLED technology .   We are confident that by 2017, we will successfully develop

an Ultra HD flexible and transparent  OLED panel of more than 60 inches, which will have

transmittance  of more than 40 percent  and  a  curvature  radius of  100R, thereby leading

the future  display market.”  said  In-Byung Kang,  Senior Vice President and  Head of the

R&D Center at LG Display .

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