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Academia and the Army

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The U.S. Army established the Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., in 2004 “to spearhead the next revolution in information displays,” according to its website. The center partners with academia, industry and government, providing design, development, early-stage prototyping and low-volume production services. The goal is to create displays that are flexible, lightweight, low power and durable.

Although there was a quite a bit of media activity concerning flexible display research and development in 2009, 2010 and 2011—from academia as well as industry—2012 was relatively quiet, but the ASU/U.S. Army partnership continues. Dr. Eric Forsythe, deputy program manager for the Army’s FDC, cited a “manufacturing breakthrough” in an article published in Army AL&T magazine, July-September 2012:

“Teams of research racked up more than 50 patents. The original goal of the program may soon be met. ‘The most important advance is that we figured out how to put conventional electronics onto plastic using existing electronics manufacturing equipment,’ Colaneri [Nick Colaneri, ASU’s FDC director] said.”

This manufacturing breakthrough opened a world of possibilities.

The expectation is that electronics can be applied anywhere: “‘You see it all around you, most visibly in multi-touch phones,” Colaneri said. ‘It’s being enabled by a whole host of electronic technologies. In the units you’re using, the display is still a piece of glass. As we move toward the displays that can be unfolded or unwrapped, I think we’re going to see an evolution to information everywhere … connectivity between electronic systems that are throughout our lives, ultimately empowering and unburdening us.’”

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