Ruth Mitchell

Electronic newspapers on the way?

Electronic newspapers may be a step closer, according to scientists. A Cambridge team have developed metal structures that can morph from flat screens into tubes and other shapes. They say in the future the structures could form the basis for electronic displays that could be rolled-up and placed in a bag or pocket.

The scientists believe the material could also be used for re-usable packaging, roll-up keyboards and self-erecting temporary shelters. The metal sheets, made from copper alloys, work without the need for moving parts such as hinges, latches or locks. They “snap” from one shape into another, from a flat sheet to a coil, bent or twisted structure.

Dr Keith Seffen, the lead researcher from the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University, said the material could have several different applications. “We are producing the supporting material for flexible electronics. Flexible electronics is a burgeoning area, people are looking into making very thin flexible displays that could be used for electronic newspapers, or other portable electronic media like a roll-up laptop or compact mobile phone.”

He added that because his structures are produced from one sheet of metal, they are quick and cheap to produce, and light and easy to carry around. Another application, said Dr Seffen, could be for temporary shelters that could be put up in emergency situations. They are transportable and have structural integrity, he added.

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