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The History & RISE of Printed Electrochromic Displays

October 21, 2021
Printed electrochromic display technology is a low-power, low-cost display solution with applications spanning everything from displays for med tech devices, smart packaging, smart labelling and consumer electronics.

While the term electrochromism itself was first coined in 1961 by John R. Platt, an American physicist and biophysicist, to explain the phenomenon of dyes changing colour when an electrical field is applied, the use of electrochromism in displays is a more recent invention.

The printed display that was first invented by researchers at RISE approximately 20 years ago is currently licensed, commercialized, and produced in volume by Ynvisible. A lot of progress has been made since it was first invented, and a multitude of individuals have been involved in this process, both from RISE, but also team members from Rdot Displays, Ynvisible, and other partners throughout the past 20+ years of development. Here we’ll delve into how it came about.

printed electrochromic displays

The History of the Printed Electrochromic Display

Printed electrochromic display technology was originally invented in the early 2000s by a team of engineers at Acreo AB, now part of RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), which is Europe’s fourth-largest research institute. 

Around 2010, Ynvisible was founded to pursue a dream. That dream was to make things alive. Specifically, that meant to convert static printed surfaces to dynamic and interactive surfaces in a plethora of colours. The technical solution that was required to fulfil this dream was not yet fully invented. As a result, Ynvisible conducted its own electrochromic display research. In this process, they became more and more aware of the work that was going on at RISE. RISE’s printed electrochromic technology was leading the way in electrochromic display research.

Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa’s discovery and development of conductive polymers - for which they won The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2000 - played an integral role in the development of printed electrochromic display. Particularly the PEDOT conductive polymer, which is absolutely central to printed electrochromic display.

Ynvisible worked closely in collaboration with RISE and researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics (LOE) at Linköping University, to commercialise the technology. Making use of LOE’s specialist innovation cluster, this joint effort saw academic research and industry institutes working side by side to bring the technology to market.

Those who pioneered the technology and contributed to its fruition are Marten Armgarth, Miao Xiang Chen, David Nilsson, Rolf Berggren, Thomas Kugler, Tommi Remonen, Robert Forchheimer (Source: Google Patents), Magnus Berggren and Göran Gustafsson. 

Over the last ten years, a lot of improvements have been made to printed electrochromic technology. Peter Andersson Erman, Jessica Åhlin, Marie Nilsson, Ulrika Linderhed, Mats Sandberg, Kathrin Hübscher and several other researchers at RISE have taken the display from an invention to an almost commercial display solution. Ynvisible is harvesting the 20+ years of research results and bringing the technology all the way to a mass-deployable solution.

It is important to note that, while there have been other players who explored printed electrochromic displays, none have managed to bring the solution to market until now.

About RISE - the founder of printed electrochromic display tech

RISE is a trailblazing research body in the printed electronics sector, having amassed over two decades of printed electronic display developments for a vast range of end uses. RISE brings together a broad range of experts in sensor systems and electronics to provide industries worldwide with the latest in applied research. 

RISE’s mission is to facilitate business competitiveness and to contribute to a sustainable world through an international collaboration between academics, industry and the public sector.

RISE was well-positioned to discover electrochromic display technology, as it combines research expertise with laboratories and testbeds, the ideal ingredients for technological innovation, plus a commitment to taking innovative ideas from vision to reality.

RISE Research & Development

RISE is an independent, state-owned research institute tackling complex challenges faced across the whole of society, including trade and industry, such as how to create sustainable alternatives to power-hungry electronic displays. Their approach is interdisciplinary, allowing the best minds from different disciplines to share ideas and innovate.

They collaborate with partners, such as Ynvisible, and their customers to ensure applied research helps solve real-world problems.

Let’s dive into their R&D strengths:

  • Applied Research For Innovation: RISE offers private sector and publicly-funded research and development support, bringing together a broad range of technical expertise to develop innovative and sustainable solutions.

  • Service Innovation & Design Processes: Develop novel services and functionalities driven by specific user conditions, behaviours and motivations. All backed up by data.

  • Professional Education: RISE offers lifelong learning courses aimed at growing competencies in R&D, aimed at businesses and the public sector.

  • Innovation Support For SMEs: Offer strategic collaborations with Swedish-owned SMEs requiring support with technical solutions, skills development, commissioned research, evaluations of products or processes, and innovation.

  • Expertise: RISE has access to expert minds from a range of disciplines and facilitates an interdisciplinary approach to the innovation process.

The Partnership Between RISE & Ynvisible

In June 2020, Ynvisible announced its partnership with RISE, with the aim of uniting RISE’s pioneering electrochromic technology invention with its own technologies, products, services, including high-volume printed electronic manufacturing capabilities, to offer the ideal go-to-market route for electrochromic display technology. This paved the way for industries to access and utilise these sustainable displays in their own applications.

Check out the exciting ways that industries are using low-power electrochromic display technology.

Ynvisible’s collaboration with RISE has expanded the sustainable options within the printed electronics market, giving industries an environmentally friendly display tech option that is inexpensive to manufacture, mass-producible and easy to integrate into existing technologies. 

See how electrochromic displays could work for your application. Get started with Ynvisible’s Segment Display Kit.

segment display kits

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