E Ink, the creator of the displays used on e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle, has developed what it's labelling as the world's first, full-colour electronic paper. The company's new Advanced Colour ePaper – or ACeP – is capable of producing to 32,000 colours using coloured pigments and could usher in a new generation of e-readers.
While coloured ePaper is nothing new, ACeP is the first to be capable of producing full colour at every pixel without the use of a colour filter array (CFA). Typically, coloured ePaper displays are produced by placing coloured filters over monochromatic displays, with resolution usually suffering as a result. E Ink's new technology could provide the second wind the e-reader market has been hoping for, which despite Amazon's renewed efforts has become somewhat stale in recent months.
E Ink claims that ACeP can show a full colour gamut using only coloured pigments, which includes all three primary colours – red, blue and yellow, in addition to purple, green and orange. It does this by squeezing all the coloured pigments into each pixel, rather than having them display side-by-side like in CFA setups.
"In developing ACeP, E Ink researchers solved the very complex problem of how to get reflective colour at every pixel in a commercially viable structure," the company explained. "Other approaches have utilized stacked backplane structures that are complex, difficult to manufacture and costly.
"The E Ink approach utilizes only a single backplane. Many materials and waveform inventions were required to independently control the position of the multiple colour pigments."
E ink says ACeP also maintains the ultra-low-power and paper-like readability as regular, monochromatic ePaper. So far, the company has produced 20-inch ACeP displays boasting 150 pixels per inch, but don't expect to see full-colour e-ink comic books any time soon: the initial target area for the technology will be digital signs for things like shops and advertising boards.
E Ink chairman Frank Ko said: "We expect ACeP to become the basis upon which another generation of EPD display products can be developed."
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