Yu-Mo Zhang and his colleagues at Jilin University in Changchun, China, have created one of the thinnest electrochromic e-reader prototypes ever produced.
It is even more notable that it can seamlessly transition from complete transparency to displaying words with high quality and color intensity.
(Photo : Nick Jones / Unsplash)
The Discovery Of Electrochromic Display
The e-reader is made from a laser-etched page of words between two glass sheets, about a quarter of a millimeter thick. The page sandwiched between the glass sheets is actually a solution of copper ions and black dye molecules. The dye molecules bond with the copper ions when exposed to electrical currents, creating the black etched words.
A post by Karina Shah in TheHackerPass gives an image of this reader
(Photo : The Hack Post via Screenshot)
An e-reader prototype Jilin University
As seen in the image, the glass’ upper right section is in constant connection with an electrical current. Despite the white paper in the background used to contrast the display, words appear in clear black text and underlining whenever the two sheets of glass are combined. On the other hand, as the glass sheets are separated, there is a slight delay in fading before returning to a clear and transparent state.
The molecules are also switchable, where they turn transparent by breaking the ion bonds when the voltage is reversed. The creator Zhang says the right amount of voltage stimulations controls the whole color-changing process.
Further research on this piece of technology revealed that the process works for eight other dyes. Yellow, Cyan, Magenta, and Purple are some of these dyes. These dye molecules can switch between transparency and color when voltage is applied.
The researchers continue to study the paper-thin screen with the aim to produce a similar product with different ranges and sizes, including billboard sizes. They also continue their research on producing multi-colored images by combining different colored dyes and laser-etching different figures instead of letters.
Screen Technology Present Today
Most technologies use pixel display screens to generate sharp colors. A primary example of the emissive display method is the organic LED (OLED) present in TVs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Even the older CRT models use the same emissive system of display.
In contrast, with a transmissive display, the screen is non-emissive. Technology using these are LCD screens that beam light through color filters and utilizes backlighting. The plasma display is also similar to the transmissive display. The screen uses tiny cells lined with phosphor and inserted with ionized gas to create the display.
The screen being non-emissive is a huge relief for readers’ eyes where there is no strain and blue-light exposure. Despite lacking the clarity and color contrast of LED, people who do a lot of heavy reading opt for transmissive or LCDs.
The discovery made by Yu-Mo Zhang and his colleagues is a huge step for the future of screen displays. Not only has this hardware been reduced to a thin and clear transparent state, but the voltage application also appears to be very minimal. By researching more of the dye’s reaction and color combination, full images on paper-thin displays might be attainable in the near future.
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Written by Czarina Grace Del Valle
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