Laser Written Polymer Scaffolds for Flexible Liquid Crystal Displays
PI: Stephen Morris
Department: Engineering Science
Flat Panel Displays are a multi-billion dollar market ($170bn by 2022) that has been dominated by Liquid Crystal (LC) technology for more than 20 years. The desire for flexible-based LC flat panel displays, particularly over large areas, is well known, but a commercially-available device has never been realised due to issues with flow, stability and the so-called touch mura phenomenon (damage which leads to clouding). Solutions to these problems have been devised, such as the formation of polymer scaffolds that stabilise the flexible LC display to bending and distortion, but current lithographic techniques have resulted in devices that have poor aperture ratios resulting in low-quality viewing properties. Recently, the Dynamic Optics and Photonics group in collaboration with the Soft Matter Photonics group in the Engineering Science Department have pioneered a new technique for inscribing micron scale polymer structures directly into fully-assembled LC devices (patents pending).
Having conducted a study with the support of EPSRC funding to demonstrate the capability of this powerful inscription process in LC devices, Dr Morris is now seeking support from the IAA to develop a proof-of-concept demonstration of a flexible LC display technology that consists of a laser-written polymer scaffold. The groups’ approach offers a viable solution to the problem of providing reinforcement in flexible LC displays whilst maintaining a high aperture ratio, which could, for the first time, provide a clear route to market for this technology. The industrial partner on the project believes this would be extremely valuable to their customers and will facilitate introduction to the key contacts at major display OEMs. Developing a proof-of-concept demonstrator and increasing the groups’ patent portfolio will create an attractive package with which to secure interest from one or more of the large display manufacturers.