Electrowetting Display That Can Be Read In Sunlight

The desire of reading newspaper and magazines on computer tablets and smartphone instead of paper was more than decades old. But a major obstacle in the fulfillment of this desire is smartphones or tablets itself, their screen are unable to read in sunlight or bright light. Now what a newspaper that someone cannot read in their garden while basking. The only problem to screens is not limited to tablets or smartphones but the display of latest laptops and desktop computers becomes unreadable in bright lights.

Readable and Unreadable tablets in sunlight
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Readable and Unreadable tablets in sunlight

To deal with this problem, E-Ink corporation introduces E-Ink (electronics ink). the company’s foundation was based by two media lab inventors of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joseph Jacobson and Bart Kamsky and they are the inventor of this E-Ink. E-Ink display can be read easily in bright light and sunlight. The technology used in this is called Electrophoretic. After the introduction of E-Ink there was hope that the problem will be resolved soon but that did not happen. E-Ink have innumerable errors. Commercialized production is not easy. Currently it is limited to some tablets, E-Readers, watches and mobile phones. The colors are dull and the very slow refresh rates is intolerable. Now imagine a display whose refresh rate and the quality of colors is like LCD but very economical in terms of energy spending and it can easily be read in bright light. This superb technology is not far from our reach now. In near future the tablets and smartphones will be common those can be read in sunlight and this is all possible in thanks to the Electrowetting display.

The story starts from 2006 when Philips has founded a new company Liqua Vista. This company’s goal is to prepare Electrowetting display. while this company was busy in the research and manufacture of proto types, in 2010 Samsung bought this company. The company produces high quality proto types after coming to Samsung and now it is expected that in this year 2014 the electronic display will be offered for sale.

Question is what is Electrowetting?

Various solid bodies varies in ability to absorb liquid. For example, if water to be put on timber it is soaked very slowly, but in case of fabric it is soaked fast. Likewise if a drop of water is put on a metal surface it didn’t absorbs but remains on the surface in ellipse shape. This property of solids is called “wetting property” and it depends on the molecular behavior  of both solid and liquid when they come in contact to each other.  When the surface of the solid body is charged then its behavior (Wetting Property) towards the liquid is changed.  In other words when the liquid is put on a charged solid its shape is different but when the charge is released it comes to its original shape. When the wet ability of solid is reduced it repels the liquids increasing in the volume and height of the liquid drop. And if the wet ability is increased there is less liquid on the surface and its height is reduced. This phenomenon is called electro wetting.

Water droplets on hydrophobic surface without and with voltage applied
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Water droplets on hydrophobic surface without and with voltage applied

This feature of electrowetting can be used to make display. Microscopic cell, we call them pixels, are filled with black liquid (oil) which causes the flow of light impossible from these cells. In this state we can call that the pixels are off. When the current is allowed to flow through the cells, the liquid shrinks. Thus light flows through the cell and the pixels are enlightened.  To make it colorful, each pixel contains three more cells (red, blue and green) on those color filters are set. The amount of voltage applied on the cell, the liquid shrinks according to it. These tree cells collectively can form millions of other colors. Thousands of such cells are collectively to be formed in a display that can have amazing features and surprising property.

But the question arises why the electrowetting is better than LCD?

First thing is that that the electrowetting display contains some layers, but LCD have dozen of layers, films, polarizer, filters in it. So electrowetting is more bright and shiny and also reduces energy cost. Electrowetting can be backlit just like LCD but there is no need of that.

Last but most important thing is that the process of manufacturing electrowetting display  is same as of LCD. That’s why Samsung is taking it so seriously as it is easy and economical  to produce on commercial scale without any major changes in production equipment.

I ‘m Zaheer Ahmed. I have Graduated in Electrical Engineering from MUET and recently I am doing job in Textile Company as Assistant Manager. Writing has now become my passion and I would like to write on diversified topics such as Education, Health, and many more. Maths is my all time favorite subject so I want to have my command in this subject as well as on my writing skills. Besides it I love my family and like to spend my time with them.

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