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UK Professor Makes Promising Discovery for Notebook and Tablet Industry

By Sarah Geegan

Chemistry professor Yuguang Cai and his research group were recently featured in the prestigious chemistry journal, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, for a discovery with promising impacts on industries making computer displays and microfluidic devices.UK Chemistry Professor Yuguang Cai and his research group makes a promising discovery for industries making computer displays and microfluidic devices.

Their discovery lies in the field of electrowetting, a technique that employs a high voltage to modify the wetting properties of a drop. E-ink screens, such as those used in the Amazon Kindle, is an application of electrowetting, which utilizes a high voltage to control ink droplets to form letters and graphics. E-ink screens could replace LCD displays in notebooks and tablets, because it offers lower power usage and equal quality.

"At present stage, the typical voltage to demonstrate the electrowetting effect on a drop is about 100-500V; in some 'better' cases, 15-20V voltage is possible," Cai said." Our breakthrough is that we can generate the electrowetting effect using just 5V in direct current mode and as low as 70mV in alternating current mode."

Reducing the driving voltage down to this level has many potential benefits, which include better safety for electrowetting devices, because there would be less risk of high voltage shock; lower fabrication cost for electrowetting devices, because the voltage escalation circuits would be no longer needed; and better stability of the devices, because the lower voltage could avoid potential electrochemical reactions at high voltage.   

Cai said that their findings will enable more people to study in this field, and enable people to build more complicated electrowetting systems.

"Our findings may readily be incorporated into current manufactory procedures, which should reduce the fabrication cost increase product stability," Cai said.

To read the full article in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, click here.