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