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Universities link with SMEs to make flat panels more readable

May 12th 2015 at 7:56 PM

Photo by:retrofit led

A two-year, £600,000 project involving two UK universities and two SMEs is aiming to develop smart coatings that improve the readability of flat-panel displays under bright sunlight.With displays increasingly being used outdoors, in mobile devices especially, but also for information display boards and cash points, the Endsense project has been set up to investigate thin film technology to improve their performance.


“Making these displays sunlight-readable is not impossible,” said Dr Colin Cartwright, a lecturer at the University of Abertay Dundee. “The key word here is ‘smart’ materials. We want to make the display aware of its environment.”Many of the improvements will be similar to the high performance displays used in aviation, but instead of requiring multiple layers – improved backlights, infra-red-blocking layers, coatings to improve contrast ratio – the aim is to reduce cost and complexity by combining multiple functions into a single layer.“Our proposal is to integrate the functions into one or two single layers,” said Cartwright. “There is a certain element of speculation about it.


It may be a question of levels of success.”Among the initial ideas are combining thin films for transflective displays with polarising films and active functions such as photochromics, and even embedded photovoltaic power sources. The work is part-funded by the DTI.Greenwich University will supply simulation expertise, modelling mechanical, thermal and optical properties, and the SMEs Micro Circuit Engineering and Thin Film Solutions will work on new designs of screen assemblies with novel coatings. The University of Dundee Abertay is handling the usability aspects.“We want our designs to be more usable, so we will be determining a unit of scale of usability,” said Cartwright.University of Abertay DundeeGreenwich UniversityMicro Circuit Engineering

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