An early prototype has a soldier holding a flexible PDA weighing just 13 ounces and featuring an E Ink frontplane and a low temperature amorphous Silicon TFT backplane.
Currently, the center is looking at two kinds of flexible displays: a reflective display (which relies on ambient light) known as a "zero power" version for its almost negligible power consumption and an emissive low-power model that emits its own light. In comparison, an LCD relies on backlight.
The reflective displays are the most promising as they only require power to switch the transistors in the pixel array to update the image and have no backlight so power for fixed image viewing is very low.
"We need to look at technology that is fairly far along in the path towards commercialization," says Morton.
It is also evaluating additional materials and manufacturing issues to get the displays into production devices, says Morton. It hopes to have them in limited field trials within the next two to three years, and is working with companies such as LG to commercialize the technology.
"Our goal is to speed development of the displays and make them available for commercial manufacturing soon," he says.