Daylight displays harness micro power

A low-cost display and fluid manipulation technology is proving to be just the thing for devices powered by very small batteries

Developed in response to a request by a major fire alarm and security company for a very low power display, a new technology is now available that is daylight visible and consumes exceptionally little power. Based on fluidics, it also has the potential to be used in much larger displays, while the underlying technology can be used to control fluid flow on ‘lab-on-a-chip’ devices. The idea – invented and developed by Bartels Mikrotechnik in Dortmund, Germany – is a variant of what are called ‘Electrowetting’ displays. The way it works is to have a droplet of liquid on a hydrophobic surface, which can then be made to spread out, wetting the surface by applying a voltage to it. Essentially, the voltage interacts with the electric charge double layer that exists at any liquid-solid interface.