Light Polymers, a nanochemistry startup based in San Francisco, California USA, announced a next-generation circular polarizer for OLED displays utilizing the company’s lyotropic liquid crystal technology. The company says that it proprietary nanochemistry to create a circular polarizer at 45 µm. Furthermore, the firm contends that its polarizers are thinner than any competitive product.
A circular polarizer lessens the light reflection off of an OLED panel’s mirror-like surface. Without the technology, an OLED panel would reflect the light back just like a mirror, rendering an OLED display unreadable.
The adoption of borderless displays is one important trend in the smartphone market this year. In fact, an edge-to-edge screen serves as one of the significant advances in Apple’s iPhone X. These phones employ what is known as a “Flexible OLED Display,” that can wrap around the edge of the smartphone. Such Flexible OLED displays are also widely used in Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone offering.
Light Polymers says it is now developing a foldable version of this circular polarizer and because its technology is the thinnest available, the company has made significant progress and intends to introduce the technology in 2018. These latest advances reportedly push the industry closer to producing foldable displays.
Standard coating equipment can coat Light Polymers’ water-based polarizer chemistry at nearly room temperature without high drying temperatures.
“Polarizers are a fundamental part of any flat panel display technology, including OLED,” said Marc McConnaughey, president and CEO of Light Polymers. “The polarizer industry’s current technology is nearly forty years old and based on PVA or polyvinyl alcohol which requires significant capital expense. One production line is over $50M and makes 30-40M m2 per year. Our polarizer nanochemistry enables the industry to use production lines at 1/10th the cap-ex costs and utilizes much less energy and processing additives.”
Light Polymers boasts that its lyotropic polarizer costs less to manufacture and offers better characteristics and performance than the competing technology, polyvinyl alcohol.