OLED displays, ‘green photonics’ dominate SID

LOS ANGELES—No matter where you went, whether it was the exhibit floor, the technical symposium, or even the special events and Keynote Speaker presentations, Display Week 2008 was clearly dominated by an emphasis on energy-saving, environmentally sustainable displays and photonic technologies—especially highlighting the growing appeal of organic-light-emitting-diode (OLED) displays.

LOS ANGELES—No matter where you went, whether it was the exhibit floor, the technical symposium, or even the special events and Keynote Speaker presentations, Display Week 2008 was clearly dominated by an emphasis on energy-saving, environmentally sustainable displays and photonic technologies—especially highlighting the growing appeal of organic-light-emitting-diode (OLED) displays.

“Display Week” is the common name for the Society for Information Display’s (SID; San Jose, CA; www.sid.org) International Symposium, Seminar & Exhibition, held this year at the Los Angeles convention center May 18–23, right next door to the Nokia Theatre and hordes of “American Idol” fans cheering on the final two. But there was something else to cheer about at SID 2008: The timely and ‘about time’ emphasis on making displays “green.” Not in the sense of color, of course, but in the obvious desire for display manufacturers to jump on the environmentally correct bandwagon and advertise just how successful they have been in reducing the carbon footprint of their technologies.

In the Tuesday morning Plenary, which included a brief SID business meeting, Keynote Speaker Paul Peng, Sr. VP and general manager of the Information Technology Display Business Group at AU Optronics (AUO; Hsinchu, Taiwan), presented “The Evolution of Green Products; a production of TFT-LCD Industry.” Peng announced that “We would like to become green DNA to everybody,” emphasizing the amazing strides his company has made in responsibly manufacturing thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT-LCD) technologies. Citing the 20 cm sea-level rise and 1º global temperature rise from 1880–2000, Peng walked the audience through AUO’s goals to (1) reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage by 70% per glass area, (2) reduce display power consumption from 100 W to < 40 W for a 32” display, (3) adopt 100% usage of LEDs as backlighting and save more than 120,000 mg of mercury, and (4) recycle all glass scrap for use as pottery and water-permeable brick, all by 2010 (using 2004 data as a starting point). Amazingly, the “green” statistics from AUO showed that the goals were already 60% accomplished by early 2008.

The “green” message at SID 2008 continued in the final Keynote presentation by Yoshito Shiraishi, general manager in the TV Business Group at Sony (Tokyo, Japan), who described the challenges of being the first OLED TV manufacturer. Sony’s XEL-1 OLED TV—the recipient of SID’s 2008 Gold Award for Display Device of the Year—is only 3 mm thick, but is still a small display (11 inches diagonal). Cameras in the audience flashed furiously as Shiraishi presented graph after graph comparing the OLED to traditional LCD TVs, highlighting its thinness, low power consumption, emissive brightness (no backlight), high contrast, truer black appearance, and wider color gamut—in Shiraishi’s words, “A piece of art as much as a TV.” His talk concluded with a slick video that showed how such a lightweight TV could be moved from room to room and placed in a docking station of sorts, bringing video and the TV experience into any room of the house at any time.

A green exhibit

While LCDs still surpass OLED displays in volume, the word “OLED” seemed to appear throughout the SID exhibits, both in terms of actual OLED displays as well as in companies that are developing manufacturing processes to support OLED manufacture. OLED device companies exhibiting at SID included Samsung, B&W Tek, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, ELDIM, eMagin, Epson, Fraunhofer IPMS and IOF, IGNIS, Jaco, Novaled, TDK, Toshiba, and Universal Display Corporation. In fact, “All of the LCD guys are preparing to go OLED,” said Gildas Sorin, CEO of OLED maker Novaled (Dresden, Germany), who explained during a brief meeting how the better quality and lower power consumption of OLED displays, as well as the overriding fact that 70% of the LCD process applies to OLED manufacturing, will accelerate adoption of OLED technology. Sorin said that OLEDs will ultimately be cheaper to produce than LCDs, with the crossover point for smaller mobile displays being only one year out. He did note that for larger displays, however, the crossover point is hard to predict, citing Sony’s OLED TV that targeted picture quality rather than low power consumption, in his opinion.

In addition to OLEDs, a host of other “green” technologies included 3M’s Vikuiti brightness enhancement optical films that lower LCD energy consumption by 30% or more, AUO’s latest 46-inch eco-friendly LCD TV panel that enables power consumption savings of up to 50%, CI Lumen Industries’ and Dolby’s LED-backlit LCD displays with lower power consumption, Corning’s “greener” version of its Gorilla Glass—a strong protective cover for displays that offers high impact and scratch resistance, FUJIFILM Dimatix’s inkjet technology to fabricate highly efficient solar energy cells, and Qualcomm’s mirasol displays that extend the life of batteries by mimicking the natural process that creates color in butterfly wings.

Into the future

SID has always been a great show for giving attendees a preview into future technologies. I had a chance to sample a head-worn device from RuCap that tracks your head position in relation to a virtual object, allowing you to move your head and dodge speeding bullets, for example, in a virtual-reality gaming environment. And I was also impressed by a transparent display from Lumus that superimposed a quite bright and colorful video image against the background of the exhibit hall.

Numerous companies, including Kent Displays, LG display, PVI, Samsung, Sony, and again, Universal Display Corporation, showed a variety of flexible displays and portable readers; perhaps we will be saving more trees sooner than we think by eliminating paper altogether!

And this year, SID featured a number of different three-dimensional (3-D) display technologies from Chi Mei, ELDIM, LG, NEC, Pavonine, and Samsung, as well as a Monday afternoon Seminar on “Stereoscopic and 3-D Display Technologies” with presentations from Michael Robinson at Real D (Boulder, CO) and a Wednesday morning Applications Tutorial on “Principles of Stereoscopic 3-D Displays and Content Delivery” from Chris Chinnock of Insight Media (Norwalk, CT). In addition, SID held a special Wednesday afternoon session on 3-D in cinema, with presentations by representatives of Dreamworks Animation, Sony Pictures, 3ality Digital Systems, Quantel, Dolby, and Real D.

Current display trends

While future technologies are fun to ponder, there is no discounting the excitement of the display technologies that are here today. According to SID president Paul Drzaic, who spoke at the early Tuesday morning Press Breakfast, displays are a $100 billion dollar per year business (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/294191), with tens of trillions of terawatt hours attributed to TV watchers alone, not to mention the use of displays on computers and cell phones—hence the desire for “green” technologies to cut display power consumption. Analyst Bob O’Donnell from IDC (Framingham, MA) added that in 2009, notebook PC displays will probably displace desktop displays, and that at the end of 2008, demand is expected to outstrip the display supply, meaning a sure rise in display prices.

O’Donnell noted several trends in the display industry, including a move from 16:10 to 16:9 format wide screens, the move to LED backlighting, higher color depths (10-bit or 12-bit), and non-square LCD formats (circular, oval, curved), and an increase in touch formats for mobile devices, as well as increased demand for low-power displays due to energy concerns. The “green” energy consumption message was echoed in the Tuesday opening Keynote Speaker presentation by Mary Lou Jepsen, founder of Pixel Qi, but better recognized as the technologist behind the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC; laptop.org) project. Jepsen detailed how OLPC would not have reached its November 2007 goal of mass production for its first-generation laptop (one million have shipped), had it not been for the tremendous co-development effort with Chi Mei to produce (in a short 6 month development cycle), a display that would meet the cost and power consumption requirements of OLPC. “The future of portable computing is all about the screen” is in fact the tagline for Jepsen’s new company Pixel Qi, which builds on the display success of OLPC.

As sponsor of the Wednesday morning Press Breakfast, Corning (Corning, NY) was able to present its vision for the future of glass related to the display industry. Of course, Corning sees a continued trend in increasing sizes for flat-panel display glass manufacture; they are currently manufacturing generation 10 (Gen 10) glass that covers 100 square feet (70% larger than Gen 8). In 2008, Corning expects LCD displays to overtake CRT, and believes that the glass will need to continually improve in terms of durability, reduced weight, scratch resistance, and improved optical qualities, as the display industry progresses. In response to these trends, Corning is continually developing new glass products, including the previously mentioned Gorilla Glass, its Jade glass with high thermal stability to handle low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) processing, its VITA product which is a combination of Jade glass and a frit process that offers a hermetic-sealing solution for OLED manufacturers, and—furthest out on the roadmap—its single-crystal silicon on glass (SiOG), which is apparently approaching silicon-on-insulator (SOI) performance.

“This year was a success for SID—not only did registrations exceed 2007 numbers, but we also had a record number of presentations on a wide variety of display technologies and innovations,” said Tom Miller, executive director for SID. In total, there were 7600 attendees and 510 oral and paper presentations. “This year, we also hosted our first-ever 3-D in cinema special session, which received rave reviews from attendees,” added Miller. “In all, SID is very pleased with this year’s event and the feedback we’ve received from attendees and exhibitors is along these same lines.”

SID 2009 will be held from 31 May to 5 June in San Antonio, TX. —Gail Overton

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