Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Electronic Ink

PostedApril 4, 2010

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Randy Atkins: It’s electronic paper that uses real ink. Jason Heikenfeld, a University of Cincinnati engineer, is one of the inventors.

Jason Heikenfeld: This is the first time where we’re basically displaying the same pigments that you would print on a paper, at almost the exact same thickness.

Randy Atkins: Only the words can change in a fraction of a second.  The pigments are hidden within tiny holes in the center of pixels arrayed – three-hundred per inch – directly beneath a thin layer of clear plastic.  

Jason Heikenfeld: Electrical energy pulls it out, displays it, and then a spring-like energy, which is surface tension, causes it to spring back into the hole when you take the voltage off.

Randy Atkins: It happens fast enough to show video.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.

Researchers say this electronic paper can even be made thin and flexible enough to roll up.