A logical step

Dan Rogers - 24 Aug 2012


Until recently, Plastic Logic was probably best known for its efforts to make an impact in the e-reader market, before announcing plans to expand into new applications.

Plastic Logic's technology is ready to be used by othersHeadlines such as 'Plastic Logic exits e-reader market' underlined the way in which the Cambridge, UK-headquartered spinout had become associated with this hotly contested consumer electronics market. But the challenge of being vertically integrated to deliver in this field - developing its own displays, creating its own products and providing the customer services needed - was enormous.

The company's change of strategy may have left those who saw the business as an e-reader developer wondering what is left for Plastic Logic. Yet for the plastic electronics industry the new approach may have just made the most sophisticated organic, flexible semiconductor technology available for the world to use.

Video-rate flexible displays illustrate the strength of the firm's organic semiconductor backplane, which integrates 1.2 million transistors.

Semiconductors

While it is naturally impressive to see e-paper running video clips - even in colour - the real significance is the power of the organic device achieving this.

An e-paper display can, at best, make limited use of video refresh rates; it is not a core function of an e-reader or similar device, for instance - people wishing to frequently watch videos will more likely use a laptop or tablet.

However the video-rate demonstrators show organic semiconductors could be suitable for other display uses, such as flexible OLEDs; and even non-imaging applications.

Plastic Logic is currently partnered with the UK's Centre for Process Innovation on a project to integrate flexible OLEDs with organic thin-film transistor (TFT) backplanes.

Volume 5, issue 1And the company is speaking to partners about non-imaging uses like photodiodes and x-ray sensors.

What distinguishes Plastic Logic is that much of the device innovation has been scaled too. One of the most significant things is the proficiency of its manufacturing capability.

While many plastic electronics businesses boast of exciting innovations in the lab that could translate into enabling technologies for new products, Plastic Logic has proven its ability to deliver devices to the market soon after establishing a customer's intent to integrate its products via successful field trials.

This article appears in full in Volume 5, issue 1 of +Plastic Electronics magazine. To read this article, along with more high-value, exclusive content, subscribe to +Plastic Electronics magazine.

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