AU Optronics Corp. (AUO), Taiwan's biggest maker of flat-panel displays by revenue, said Tuesday it will begin mass production of flexible electronic paper next year.

In a statement, the company said it plans to offer six-inch flexible electronic paper samples to its customers in 2010. But the company declined to reveal how much it invested in the technology or its expected production volume.

Flexible electronic displays make use of plastic substrates so they are thinner and lighter than glass displays like those used in Inc.'s (AMZN) e-reader Kindle. Liquid-crystal-display makers like AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. (3009.TW) are diversifying into other display areas, hoping that consumers' shift to digital books will help boost their revenue longer term.

AU Optronics acquired a 31.6% stake in e-paper maker SiPix Imaging Inc. in March for US$30 million. AU Optronics' flexible e-paper uses SiPix's "Microcup" technology, which uses high-speed roll-to-roll manufacturing.

"The mass production of the flexible e-paper will drive the next wave of the reading revolution," said C.T. Liu, senior vice president and general manager of consumer product display business group, in the statement.

E-paper will bring about more innovative and portable consumer electronic products and applications to the market, said Liu.

-By Charmian Kok, Dow Jones Newswires; 88622 502-2557;