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Army continues Flexible Display Center support

January 29, 2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: The U.S. Army’s renewal of a five-year contract for $50 million to ASU’s Flexible Display Center is an example of the economic benefit a research university can bring to its state. In this case, the benefit has short and long-term consequences. In the short term, Arizona benefits from the $50 million, five-year contract. In the longer term, the work of the Flexible Display Center is designed to lead to an entirely new industry that will grow from within Arizona. Each year, Arizona universities pump almost $1 billion into the Arizona economy from their research, most of which is funded by the US government and entities from outside the state. Research money brought in by universities is restricted money that can only be used for the research activity it supports. It cannot be used to compensate for cuts in other parts of the university’s budget.


ASU announced Jan. 29 that the U.S. Army has committed to sponsor an additional five years of research and development at ASU’s Flexible Display Center. The five-year renewal, agreed upon in 2008, is for $50 million and follows initial funding of the center in 2004. Taken together, the two five-year commitments represent a total investment of nearly $100 million in this unique component of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s research portfolio.

The Flexible Display Center is a collaboration among government, industry and academia designed to advance the development of full-color flexible display technology.

The U.S. Army’s continued commitment follows a rigorous evaluation of Flexible Display Center activities and progress during its first five years of operation, with a thorough assessment of the Center’s future plans. The review included an evaluation by leading technology experts assembled at the invitation of the Army.

Army officials say the Flexible Display Center represents a critical resource in the Army’s ongoing effort to provide military members with the highest level of technology assets. Since the Army’s initial support in 2004, officials say they have been consistently impressed with the Center’s track record in achieving critical development milestones. They expect that over the next five years, the Center will expand its portfolio beyond strictly informational displays and will extend its role as a national asset in the research and development of flexible electronics.

Over the past five years, the Flexible Display Center has established a strong set of core capabilities to support flexible display development, including six-inch wafer-scale and GEN II 370x470 mm display-scale manufacturing pilot lines and related toolsets. Through its collaboration programs, the center has achieved development and demonstration milestones that incorporate a broad range of advanced materials and processes necessary to accelerate the commercialization of flexible displays.

With a view towards the next five years of its operations, the Flexible Display Center has appointed Nicholas Colaneri to the position of director, replacing Gregory Raupp, who was the Center’s director since its inception in 2004. Colaneri joined the Center in 2005 as associate director, responsible for business development, member recruitment and the management of the center’s intellectual property. He received his Ph.D. in physics in 1987 from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Raupp continues as professor of chemical engineering at Arizona State University, and in this capacity he will be responsible for strategic research and market opportunities in flexible electronics for ASU supporting the Flexible Display Center.

“As an early adopter of advanced technologies, the Army recognized the importance of developing revolutionary information displays and had the foresight to commit to fostering a sustainable ecosystem that could successfully develop and commercialize flexible electronic displays,” says Colaneri. “The Army’s long-term commitment to this initiative not only recognizes the important role that the center plays within this developing market but, more critically, allows us to accelerate the application development and commercialization process.”

In addition to the U.S. Army, the Flexible Display Center partners with many of the world’s leading and emerging industry providers of advanced display technology, materials and process equipment, and product integrators such as HP, General Dynamics, Raytheon, BAE Systems, L3 Communications, Boeing, LG Display, E Ink, Applied Materials AKT, Ito America, EV Group, DuPont Teijin Films, Honeywell, Universal Display Corporation, Kent Displays, Plextronics, Etched In Time, Surface Science Integration and Particle Measuring Systems. A key founding partner in the center is the FlexTech Alliance, an industry association focused on the manufacturing and distribution chain of flexible, printed electronics and displays.

Also, the Flexible Display Center collaborates with renowned universities such as University of Texas at Dallas and Lehigh University on basic materials research projects.

Flexible electronic displays are playing an increasingly important role in the global high-tech industry, serving as the crucial enabling technology for a new generation of portable devices, including e-readers and similar products designed to combine mobility with compelling user interfaces. According to a recent iSuppli report, the flexible display market is expected to grow from $80 million in 2007 to $2.8 billion by 2013.

About the Flexible Display Center

The FDC is a government – industry – academia partnership that’s advancing full-color flexible display technology and fostering development of a manufacturing ecosystem to support the rapidly growing market for flexible electronic displays. FDC partners include many of the world’s leading providers of advanced display technology, materials and process equipment. The FDC is unique among the U.S. Army’s University centers, having been formed through a 10-year cooperative agreement with Arizona State University in 2004.

This adaptable agreement has enabled the FDC to create and implement a proven collaborative partnership model with over 20 engaged industry members, and to successfully deploy world class wafer-scale R&D and GEN-II display-scale pilot production lines for rapid flexible display technology development and manufacturing supply chain commercialization. More information on the Flexible Display Center can be found at



Nick Colaneri,
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