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Engineering Materials

Flexible Batteries Power Flexible Displays

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NadineJ
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very cool
NadineJ   8/28/2012 11:29:47 AM
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The first time I saw a  flexible display at CES, I was awed.  I couldn't imagaine what could come next. 

I'm curious to see the thin-film transistors when they're ready.  Thanks for the article.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: very cool
Ann R. Thryft   8/28/2012 12:24:20 PM
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Nadine, I admit that I have a tough time believing flexible displays can work. They seem so counterintuitive, yet there are several development efforts going on to produce them.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: very cool
Rob Spiegel   8/28/2012 4:56:27 PM
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It's going to be interesting to see what applications come from this. The flexible displays I've seen are fun, but I haven't seen them in a setting where flexibility was a necessity rather than a nice gimmick. Yet I'm sure somebody will come up with a great idea once this technology is available.

Charles Murray
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Re: very cool
Charles Murray   8/28/2012 5:18:08 PM
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I'm sure that engineers will find many applications for thin film batteries and displays. I can remember when people claimed the only application for PCs was to store recipes. We've found some new apps since then.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: very cool
Rob Spiegel   8/29/2012 10:31:25 AM
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Good point, Chuck. We're likely to be surprised by what shows up now that this flexible technology is becoming available. It didn't take long for applications to show up for the PC. Smart phones are another good example. Using the phone to make a call almost seems an afterthought for young users.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: very cool
Ann R. Thryft   8/29/2012 12:04:05 PM
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Yes, Chuck, just a few apps since then :) For flexible displays, the apps I see mentioned most often are watches and other wearable computers, medical devices, and signage. I think Nancy's right: once the tech is available, they will be all over the place and we'll wonder how we ever did without them.

Nancy Golden
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Re: very cool
Nancy Golden   8/28/2012 5:19:21 PM
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I agree, Rob. I have a feeling a few years from now they will be in the technology domain in products that we don't even give a second thought to as being out of the ordinary...kind of like the evolution of LED flashlights.

NadineJ
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Re: very cool
NadineJ   8/28/2012 5:32:55 PM
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One idea did come to me while reading through the comments.   I can see this used for tablets aimed at the kid's market.  I never imagined that a $400 item could be popular for children.  If you've ever watched two toddlers arguing over an ipad, you know what I mean.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: very cool
Rob Spiegel   8/29/2012 11:02:17 AM
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I agree, Nadine. Tiny kids take to tablets in a remarkable way. In a family, the kids take over the tablets in ways they never tried to do with desktops or laptops. Flexible computers will be perfect for kid applications.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: very cool
Ann R. Thryft   8/29/2012 12:05:01 PM
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Nadine, that's a perfect app for flexible electronics in general, including displays. Kids manhandle everything anyway, so why not make electronics more damage-proof? A new definition of ruggedized: is it toddler-proof? Wonder if DARPA is testing stuff on toddlers yet.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: very cool
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/29/2012 1:11:01 PM
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Ann- I know you make the reference to Toddler-Tested Electronics at DARPA as "tongue-in-cheek", but I don't think you're very far off--- After a recent focus group which interviewed military personnel on the likes/dislikes of a new prototype, it was documented that many of the intended military "users" would be young enlisted men ages 18 & 19, who, or course are fresh from the Gaming-Generation, and tend to be pretty rough on electronics.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: very cool
Ann R. Thryft   9/4/2012 12:33:17 PM
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Jim, it was only a half tongue-in-cheek comment. I was surprised to learn how roughly electronics are treated by some young people, especially DVDs. Gee, thanks for all those scratches on my rental movie! Since ruggedization of removable media and systems is costly, it's usually only the military and industrial versions of electronics that get that protection.

wbswenberg
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Plastic Batteries
wbswenberg   8/29/2012 11:22:47 AM
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I can remember reading about two potential plastic battery technologies more than a decade ago.  I'm not talking about using plastic as an armature.  There were two developments; one was more like a cap for charge storage; the other was like an organic plastic.  I can also remember about film batteries which was more like plastic armature with the media deposited on the plastic film.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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This is Big.
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/29/2012 1:11:30 PM
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Reading thru most of the blogger comments so far, I think many of us are commenting on the flexible display as opposed to the real breakthrough of the flexible power source.  I was developing advance concepts for flexible displays over 10 years ago – (both electrophoretic bi-stable displays {e-ink}, and Mylar-based Liquid crystal).  But a HUGE roadblock was the lack of a flexible power source.  This article is reporting on something very big.  When you compare  the advancement curves of various technologies over the past several decades, (RF Protocols, Miniaturization, Displays, Rapid Prototyping, Batteries, etc.) the battery advancement is -- by far -- the least impressive.  This development will certainly put a spike in that curve.

Charles Murray
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Re: This is Big.
Charles Murray   8/29/2012 6:28:07 PM
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1 saves
JimT: What are a few of the applications for the flexible power source? Does a flexible power source always get used in a flexible display? Or can the application itself be non-flexible but still need the flexible power source?

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: This is Big.
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   9/4/2012 9:48:45 AM
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Charles, having the ability to create a new product architecture knowing the battery is no longer a rectangular block will allow product designers much flexibility.  I've been developing hand-held and portable electronic products for a long time and the very first considerations to a products' overall size, weight and form-factor are (1) the battery and (2) the display.  Defining those two elements is an 'up-front' task that must be thoroughly specified before you can begin product layout.

Regarding your question if flexible displays always require a flexible power source, well, no;  not at all.  But when concept products show-casing flexible display technologies first started showing up at CES about 10 years ago, the product architects were constrained to designing with rectangular prismatic Lithium-Ion cell packs; and those large cumbersome bricks put a real damper on the big "Gee-Whiz" effect of the flexible displays (think arm-bands, or wrist-worn items for example).

As mentioned, there are several technologies which allow for flexible displays, but never before have designers had the capability for the entire product architecture to fully exploit this new characteristic. So, if displays can bend, and the motherboards are fabricated on flex circuits, it now gives hope that a power source could match the curve of the entire product and become thin, form-fitting and very compelling to new market applications.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: This is Big.
Ann R. Thryft   9/4/2012 12:35:41 PM
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Jim, thanks for acknowledging what a big deal flexible batteries are. You're right, I guess we tend to get distracted by the flexible displays. But the real innovation is in the batteries, and you've clearly described what they bring to portable electronics design.

Cadman-LT
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Re: This is Big.
Cadman-LT   9/19/2012 5:06:08 PM
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I agree, this is a big deal for sure. I remember seeing roll-up screens somewhere a few years ago, this would be a perfect fit for that.

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