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The 'unbreakable' mobile phone: Samsung shows off radical paper thin flexible screen
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The Korean electronics company provided a glimpse of such a device at a keynote speech Wednesday at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas.
The screen is expected to find its way in to Samsung handset, although the firm said the devices shown, which ran Microsoft's phone software, were only prototypes.
Brian Berkeley, head of Samsung Electronics Co.'s display lab in San Jose, California, demonstrated a prototype phone that consisted of a matchbox-sized hard enclosure, with a paper-thin, flexible color screen attached to one end.
The screen doesn't appear flexible enough to fold in half like a piece of paper, but it could bend into a tube, onlookers said.
The company also showed a video of a future concept, with a phone-sized device that opens up like a book, revealing a tablet-sized screen inside.
The screen uses organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.
Only a thin layer of these chemicals is needed to produce a bright, colorful screen.
They're used in many Samsung phones already, though with glass screens.
For the bendable phone, Samsung laid the chemicals over thin plastic instead of glass.
In a more conventional application, Berkeley also demonstrated a phone with a display that's rigid, but bent around the edges of the device, so it can show incoming messages even with a cover over the main screen.
However, the OLED chemicals are extremely sensitive to oxygen, so they need to be completely sealed off from the air.
Volume production of flexible displays that remain airtight has so far stumped engineers. Samsung's screens aren't yet flexible enough to fold, just bend.
Samsung also refused to say when the handset might be available.
'The concept of the flexible screen has been around for some time, but it finally looks as if Samsung is really going to deliver on that technology,' said Stephen Bell, an analyst with Keystone Global.