Electronic Paper Turns a Page£®2£©


    Electronic paper might one day serve as the vehicle for a low-cost stream of information to schools all over the world.And,while students today often strain their backs with the hefty books they have to lug around in their backpacks,students of the future might get by with only one textbook.It would be electronic,and its pages would change with the touch of a button.

    Ultimately,we are trying to create the "last book,"says Darren Bischoff of E Ink.It would be "one book that could be all books."

    Joseph Jacobson, E Ink cofounder, was sitting on the beach when he first dreamed of creating electronic ink. He had just finished reading a novel and wished that he didn't have to get up to go buy another one. Wouldn't it be great, he thought, if he could simply turn the book he had just read into a new one?

    Scientists had been working on electronic paper since the 1970s, but technical difficulties kept getting in the way. Jacobson is a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT) Media Laboratory. So, he embarked on a new series of research projects to come up with a fresh approach. With the help of two undergraduate students at MIT, Jacobsen found a promising technology, and the team launched E Ink in 1997.

    Electronic-paper technology relies on tiny spheres called microcapsules. Several industries already use microcapsules. Scratch-and-sniff stickers, for instance, enclose smelly chemicals in tiny bubbles that burst open when you scratch them. Drug companies also use microcapsules to make time-release pills.