In this blog, we will be looking at what E-paper is, how the technology works, and the everyday applications you can find it being used in.
What is E-paper?
E-Paper is a display technology designed to replicate the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike more conventional types of flat panel display which, generally use a backlight (either LED, CCFL or EL) to illuminate the pixels, E-paper is a purely reflective technology.
At present, the purpose of E-paper is to simulate the traditional reading experience by providing a high contrast display; that puts less strain on the eyes and provides a greater viewing angle. E-paper is bistable technology, which means the E-paper display can hold static text or images without power. Only when you wish to alter the text or images do you need to apply any electrical power.
How does E-paper work?
E-paper displays are made from millions of minuscule capsules filled with a clear fluid that houses microscopic colour particles with different electrical charges. When a positive or negative electric field is applied to the display, the electrodes which are located above and below the capsules move up and down. This movement causes the surface of the e-paper to reflect the desired colour particle, making up a pattern across the capsules of the image or text. Traditionally when used in e-readers (such as a Kindle) these capsules will only house positively charged white pigments and negatively charged black pigments, giving a black and white image.
E-paper devices are available in both flexible and non-flexible forms; non-flexible E-paper is more like a traditional screen, and flexible E-paper uses plastic substrates and electronics that allow the screen to be bent and folded during use without damaging the device.
What are the applications of e-paper?
● E-readers such as Kindles
● Digital signage and shelf labels
● Digital ID tags
● Bus stop/station timetables
● Digital billboards
● Portable digital signs
● Foldable and rollable displays
● Smartphone displays
What are the advantages of E-paper?
E-paper comes with several advantages over traditional LCD screens, for certain applications, particularly for reading. The technology is designed to be easier to read, with high definition, high contrast and low power consumption. Readers can expect wider viewing angles and much less eye strain using an e-paper display than a traditional LCD screen using a backlight.
Aside from the personal use of E-readers, public E-paper displays also benefit from the improved readability in scenarios such as traffic signs and passenger information boards may be in bright sunlight. However, E-paper displays do come with a few drawbacks – which is why it’s not always a good choice for some applications. While they are great for displaying static text, they are not suitable for animations or quick-change displays, as they are slow to update the on-screen image or text. Whilst this is not a problem for E-readers or some Digital Signage, dynamic, animated and quick scrolling content often cannot be supported on e-paper, so TFT is often preferred.
Easby Electronics can offer a wide choice of display technologies, including LCD, OLED, TFT and E-paper. You can view our range of e-paper here.