Electronic Ink and Paper
Cambridge, Mass.-based E Ink Corp.is a leader in the development of electronic ink and “paper”that could replace newspapers and books as we know them today.
The use of electronic ink and two-way wireless communication could lead to the creation of electronic books that will renew themselves with new selections when readers are finished with the current book——or newspapers that update themselves with the latest news while being read.
Electronic ink, as devised by E Ink, is a clear, liquid plastic in which there are microcapsules that contain white chips in a blue dye.The microcapsules are suspended in a substance similar to vegetable cooking oil.The white chips are negatively charged so they react to electrical stimulus.
This ink can be spread on any surface——from walls to computer screens——says Russell Wilcox, vice president and general manager at E Ink.However, the writing surface would look similar to a very thin laptop display screen with a clear surface on the front and circuitry on the back.
A positive charge applied on the top surface of the ink will allow the white to show, making the surface as white as a sheet of paper.If the charge moves to the bottom, the dark particles will show, giving the appearance of blue ink.Electronic ink uses less power than a PalmPilot, and the message remains displayed even after the power is turned off.
The ultimate goal is for the electronic pages to look and feel like paper.However, for the foreseeable future, these new books are likely to be bulkier than paperback books.
Electronic ink will have interactive qualities, although E Ink isn't sure people will be able to write with it for a while——they will mainly receive messages.Xerox Corp.is also working on a technology that could replace paper as portable, renewable reading matter.