End of ‘age of Gutenberg’

Belarusian newspapers and energy posters could be printed on electronic paper

By Victoria Kamendova

Despite trial research into electronic paper being conducted in the 1970s, it only began to take off twenty years later. Today, no one doubts that this achievement has far-reaching prospects.

The technological breakthrough has more common features with its cellulose predecessor than a contemporary digital display. Electronic paper is light and flexible, being able to hold texts and images indefinitely, without drawing electricity. Images are formed on traditional LCD displays by shining light through a matrix; electronic paper — just like traditional paper — creates an image by reflecting light. However, characters and symbols aren’t drawn with printing ink onto paper sheets; they are sketched by a laser beam, with charged particles in microcapsules moved onto substrate from plastic, foil paper or fabric.

Reading texts on electronic paper is far less harmful than reading from a computer monitor, since eyes aren’t strained in the same way. Electronic paper has no backlighting, so can be read in any light conditions. It has been created to overcome the disadvantages of LCD displays. However, during its application, another advantage was revealed: it consumes the minimum amount of energy, just enough to switch pixels using control electrodes. Testing posters on electronic paper, Japan’s Toppan Printing calculated that a 3.2sq.m poster consumes only 24 Watts of electricity.

Having thoroughly studied world experience on the creation and application of electronic paper, Belarusian scientists from the Institute of Chemistry of New Materials at the National Academy of Sciences have decided to develop their own domestic colour version. Three years are needed to complete the project, with the first samples appearing soon.

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