I was pleased to read in February’s PhysicsWorld that a spin-off company started by Henning Sirringhaus and Richard Friend (the latter being one of my old university lecturers) has launched an exciting product into the electronics market – the Que. (Don’t ask me how to say it, nor why they have chose such awful colours for their website.) Think of an electronic piece of paper – lightweight, flexible – can display your documents just like a piece of paper does – without the frustrating weight and fragility of a laptop or the tiny screen size of an i Pad.
It uses electronics made from organic compounds that has been ‘printed’ onto a plastic surface. The result is a flexible, drop-proof screen.
It’s another example of how physics research results in end-products; not by way of a short-term investment payback to a funding body, but in the long term. The research behind the Que started over 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, how many would people have seen the current market for portable, flexible, pdf readers as existing? Given the pdf didn’t exist until 1993, probably only the really visionary ones.