A new light-emitting technology, invented and developed in Cambridge, has taken its first step towards major commercial exploitation. Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) has announced a licencing deal with Philips Components, a division of Philips Electronics. The division makes and supplies components for a wide variety of consumer and industrial electronic equipment, including PDAs, CD-ROMs, computers, automotive and domestic products.
Light-emitting polymers (LEPs) look much like LEDs, the universal solid-state indicating devices, but are made of plastic rather than gallium arsenide. This means that they can be produced much more simply, cheaply and flexibly: LEDs are made in a similar way to silicon chips in large, expensive production lines, LEPs can be mixed in a vat by one person in a white coat. LEPs can also display a much wider range of colours, and can theoretically be deposited on surfaces of any shape or size.
Although the financial details are secret, the plan is to develop backlights for mobile phones, PDAs and other portable devices. After that, individual display devices will be produced - CDT has already demonstrated a dot-matrix alphanumeric display, although device lifetime is currently limited due to contamination seeping through the packaging.
PCDN comment: The potential for this display technology is hard to overstate, although much development needs to be done. It is particularly gratifying to see a Cambridge company with the commercial nous to back up its innovative skills, and partnership with Philips should see LEPs become an integral part of all our lives