e-Ink : Part-2

In the previous session, we discussed the science of how we see, eye strain, and the invention of e-Ink technology. Today we will discuss a little mechanism and more of the application of e-Ink technology. And in the next and last session, we will discuss advance use and future of this technology.

Let’s start with the pros and cons of e-Ink technology:


  • e-Ink devices can last weeks on a single charge.
  • e-Ink displays mimic the appearance of physical books.
  • e-Ink displays are easier for eyes and don’t cause eye strain


Grayscale: e-Ink displays show objects or text in a mechanism where black color pigments are used like crayon on paper. So it only can show 4-16 sheds of grey. Not being able to show colors e-Ink ca not render full-color illustrations, photos, or other images that add to the reading experience.

Latency: The black pigments take time to move that’s why e-Ink displays have a very low refresh rate. So these displays cannot display moving images, such as video or the movement of mouse cursor.

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Mechanism of e-Ink displays:

e-Ink works by using tiny microcapsules that are suspended in a liquid placed within a film layer. When at the base layer positive charge is applied that repulses the positive white pigments towards the outer screen and attracts the black negative pigments towards the base itself. So on the screen displays white color. Vise-versa if negative charge is applied then the positive charge are drawn back to the base and only black pigments are shown at the screen. If partly positive and partly negative charge is applied then it shows grey color. Shown in the figure. We only have positive and negative charge to manipulate the display so we shows a few sheds of grey (4-16 sheds) whereas in LCD we can display we can show 256 sheds from pure white to pure black.  So e-Ink displays sacrifice the vividness and let along the color.


And to change the image on the screen we have to move physical objects (tiny pigment particles) that’s why the refresh rate is way lower than LCD displays. On e-ink at best we get 2 frame (.45 seconds refresh latency) per second where on LCD displays we can change the image up to 60-120 times in a second.

Electric charge is applied only when we change the contrast of the pixels. That’s why these displays are very energy efficient. Where in LCD displays the light is consistently emitted as long as the image is displayed.

What is e-Ink good for:

As e-Ink produces a text display these displays got popularity especially to book readers due to the resemblance to printed paper. This is the reason e-ink displays are mainly used in e-readers. But in recent years we saw the implementation of e-ink screens other purposes like secondary screen of phone (like Yota phone or iPhone e-ink case), smartwatches (like Fossil Hybrid), billboards, personal dashboards, product tags to even T-shirts or shoes.

In the future we might see e-ink from our laptop and smartphone screen to our room and office walls.

Evolution of e-ink displays:

With adopting tinier microcapsules the resolution of this display can be improved.

Using finer and more responsive material for black pigments the sheds and refresh rate can be improved.

At the end of 2011 kindle launched first touch sensitive kindle.  Kindle added backlightLED illuminate screen, so that readers can read even in the dark. We also saw some improvements in pixel density and refresh rate in this technology. Only in the recent years we saw some dramatic change in e-Ink.Like the added flexibility of the screen will let it be useful in rollable display technology or use the displays to things like T-shirts or shoes.. 

This ends today’s session, In the next session, we will discuss advance use of e-Ink. And how e-Ink displays are going to change our lives.

31 thoughts on “e-Ink : Part-2”

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