A new coating process, similar to painting, enables the creation of flexible liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that are resistant to damage from bending stresses. The LCDs are compatible with a range of substrates, are more flexible and thinner than traditional flat-panel displays, and can be produced to any size or shape. They can be used for displays such as indicators, clocks, labels, mobile phones, and information panels.
In this new process, a fluid mixture of liquid crystal and polymer-forming material is applied as a thin layer to a plastic foil and irradiated with UV light to stimulate the polymerization of solid to plastic from the mixture. The mixture is separated into a solid plastic cover layer on top of a switchable liquid-crystal layer. The liquid crystal material is confined between the plastic foil and the newly formed solid plastic cover layer. Patterning of the plastic foil with an adhesion promoter, applied by an offset printing process prior to UV exposure, results in robust interconnects between the solid plastic cover layer and the plastic foil, and hence a robust display. After applying a surface planarization layer, the LCD can be completed with polarizers and other functional layers. Color displays are possible using traditional color filters.
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