Seoul - Using plastic instead of glass substrates enables panel manufacturers to create bendable, flexible LCDs for mobile and consumer electronics applications. Samsung claims it has created the largest flexible display to date: The 7" prototype achieves VGA resolution.
LCDs are all the rage in virtually ever electronics segment from small 1" and 2" displays used in cellphones printers and digital cameras to 50+ inch units in high-end TVs. LCD panels today are typically produced using glass substrates, which however comes with certain disadvantages - such as their breakability and substantial weight - that limit the designs of next generation devices. An alternative to glass substrates could be plastic substrates, Samsung believes.
Samsung's plastic substrate
The company today announced what it claims to be the first 7" TFT LCD built from plastic substrates. Compared to its glass siblings, the device can be built into a thinner, lighter and more durable panels used today, Samsung said. Most likely its greatest advantage, however, is that the screen can be bent without damaging the screen and impacting image quality and panel thickness. The company believes that this feature set will allow LCDs to move into new application fields such as wearable electronics.
On the performance side, the display 640 x 480 pixel resolution (VGA) at 114 ppi, which is in line with other types of bendable displays. The aperture ratio of the device is rated at 40 percent, the brightness at 100 nits and the color saturation at 60 percent. Samsung claims that the specs are sufficient to make plastic substrates a viable alternative to glass substrates even for digital TVs.
Flexibility is considered to be the next major step for LCD technology. Used already in Japan in the advertising industry, bendable screens are typically based on OLED variants. For example, Fujitsu recently announced an OLED-based "electronic paper," that includes non-volatile image memory, which can store and display a static color image without power supply.