A new startup company by the name of Kateeva is making some major claims that may change the landscape of the screen technology. Kateeva is an America company, based in Menlo Park, CA; and they are claiming that they will be able to produce cheaper flexible OLED screens as early as next year. According to the sources, the company has a unique and special production method that they can use to apply the protective coating on OLEDs that makes them flexible and much less prone to damages.
The process involves a partnership with MIT, which is providing an exclusive license to Kateeva for “Oled Deposition Technology”. The major concern with flexible displays is to protect them from moisture and oxygen, “Just a few molecules of oxygen or moisture can kill the display,” says Greg Raupp, an Arizona State University display expert. “So the encapsulation requirements for an OLED display are quite significant.” When even a slight amount of either can damage the OLED display permanently; manufacturers go to great lengths to find the best method of coating the display in order to protect it. Traditional methods of doing this are not only difficult, but costly. Kateeva has used the MIT technology and combined it with their own re-imagining on inkjet printers. In the process, they claim to have created a production method that can produce large, flexible, OLED displays relatively quickly and much cheaper than current processes. Rather than traditional screens which use a glass base, these screens use a plastic base which incorporates the MIT technology. The display is then passed through modified inkjet printers, coating them with Kateeva’s proprietary “ink” mixture and giving the screen it’s finish. According to them, their process for putting a protective layer over the flexible OLED display costs half of what is expected from current methods.
Apart from shielding the OLED display, another issue in making the flexible OLED display is maintaining the expected level of touch sensitive. Currently, the flexible OLED displays use transparent ITO electrodes that are costly and not effective for flexible displays. Another startup called Canatu has been experimenting with carbon nanotubes and says that using the nanotubes instead of the ITO electrodes is much easier and yields great results.
Currently, Samsung and other manufacturers have created curved displays but they are not truly flexible given the current limitations and the prevalence of glass bases. Manufacturers have been reluctant to start such a big undertaking and have avoided the flexibility factor in and as a consequence have made displays more prone to damage.