May 22, 2003 - EE Times
Display technology advances light up SID Show

By Nicolas Mokhoff

Baltimore - Die-hard display technologists and vendors didn't let SARS, global terrorism or a weak economy stop them from coming to the 40th annual Society for Information Display conference here last week. While attendance was down from last year, due in part to travel restrictions in Asia, those who came got an eyeful of display technology demonstrations and heard about developments in liquid crystals, plasma displays, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and novel displays based on new materials.

In LCDs, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. announced a 21.3-inch low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) thin-film transistor LCD made with a thin-film crystallization technology known as sequential lateral solidification. SLS will enable large-area LTPS TFT LCD panels and driver circuitry on a glass substrate to be used to make system-on-glass devices, Samsung said.

Samsung researchers have also developed what they call the first four-color channel TFT LCD technology. Conventional LCDs have subpixels for three colors-red, green and blue (RGB). Samsung added a white subpixel by transmitting a fluorescent backlight through an RGB filter. A four-color TFT LCD increases luminance by 30 to 70 percent while consuming the same power as a conventional RGB TFT LCD. At an equivalent luminance level, a four-color TFT LCD consumes about 50 percent less power than a conventional RGB LCD, the company said. At SID it demonstrated four-color LCD samples that ranged from a 2-inch QVGA model for high-resolution mobile displays to a 17-inch TFT LCD for high-definition TVs.

SuperView at 37 inches

Sharp Corp. announced the availability of a family of transflective TFT LCDs based on the company's proprietary Continuous Grain Silicon technology. The CG-Silicon product family features a standardized 2.2-inch QVGA LCD cell. The company also demonstrated a 37-inch, high-resolution, large-format TFT LCD TV display based on its proprietary Advanced Super View (ASV) technology. The display offers a resolution of 3.15 million dots and a signal response time of 15 milliseconds.

NEC Electronics America showcased 12 new LCD products ranging from a 3.5-inch transflective LCD to a 20.1-inch, five-million-pixel high-resolution LCD. The company also demonstrated a prototype dual-sided, 21-inch, active-matrix LCD with a 1,280 x 462-pixel format.

Material gains

On the OLED front, Eastman Kodak Co. has developed new materials. The company, which pioneered longer-lasting blue materials, has developed a purer blue, third-generation substance that has 57 percent more chroma than the best-looking blue materials presently available, the company said. Because BD-3 requires a lower drive voltage than second-generation materials, its lifetime increases by a factor of 2.5 in active-matrix applications, and by a factor of 1.5 in full-color passive-matrix systems. Lifetime is one obstacle to the wide dissemination of OLEDs in large-area displays.

In keeping with the trend of branding novel technologies, Kodak is calling its OLED products Kodak NuVue displays.

The fast-growing OLED market has the continued confidence of such research firms as Stanford Resources and DisplaySearch, as they demonstrated in their presentations at SID. OLED displays have advantages over conventional display technologies that include higher contrast for superior readability in most lighting conditions, faster response time to support streaming video and an industry-leading 170 degrees viewing angle. The research firms predict the OLED display market could increase to $3 billion by 2007.

Novel materials are also forging new companies in the display industry. Iridigm Display Corp. showcased the latest in its suite of reflective flat-panel displays (FPDs). The San Francisco startup is working toward commercializing direct-view, bistable reflective-color and monochrome displays that leverage a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) architecture.

Iridigm's proprietary interferometric modulator (iMoD) technology is aimed at a new generation of FPDs for mobile applications. The ultralow-power iMoD-based displays offer viewing capabilities similar to printed paper, are compatible with existing hardware and software architectures, yet give system designers the flexibility to differentiate based on image quality, power consumption, performance and cost. According to vice president of marketing Mazy Sehrgosha, the advantages of Iridigm's display technology include a simpler device structure, higher reflectivity and superior environmental performance compared with a TFT LCD. The iMoD-based display also consumes zero power while the displayed image remains unchanged.

For their part, E Ink Corp. and Royal Philips Electronics unveiled their latest joint prototypes of electronic ink displays. The engineering samples featured a resolution of 160 pixels per inch, significantly higher than anything demonstrated previously. The higher resolution was enabled by continued improvement in E Ink's electronic ink display material and Philips' custom TFT backplane and driver electronics. The two companies formed a strategic partnership in February 2001 and expect to have broad commercial distribution of products in 2004.

In headset displays, MicroOptical Corp. demonstrated its DV-1 Digital Viewer, a color eye wear system featuring a Bluetooth wireless connection. The DV-1 viewer is battery-powered and readable in all lighting conditions. It also announced the availability of its Binocular Viewer OEM evaluation kit, priced at $4,000. Several versions are available, including a stereo version capable of 3-D demonstrations.

Not to be outgunned in the size category, Samsung showed off a 64-inch high-definition plasma panel at its booth with a crisp 1,280 x 1,024-pixel resolution.

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