Flat-panel-display market expansion continues

ORLANDO, FL--The Society for Information Display (SID) recently held its annual premier technology event featuring the latest advances in both flat-panel and CRT technology. Interest in this event continues to grow, with attendance u¥to 5500 from last year`s 4000. Short courses, technical papers, and an exhibit hall provided attendees with a bewildering array of display products and technologies.

Jul 1st, 1995
Th Lfw27958 15

Flat-panel-display market expansion continues

Chris Chinnock

ORLANDO, FL--The Society for Information Display (SID) recently held its annual premier technology event featuring the latest advances in both flat-panel and CRT technology. Interest in this event continues to grow, with attendance u¥to 5500 from last year`s 4000. Short courses, technical papers, and an exhibit hall provided attendees with a bewildering array of display products and technologies.

Shar¥Corp. (Tokyo, Japan), the dominant supplier of flat-panel displays, shocked attendees by doubling last year`s estimate for the total flat-panel market in the year 2000 from $20 billion to $40 billion. This astonishing revision gives clear evidence of the importance of flat panels to future optoelectronic systems.

Many liquid-crystal-display (LCD) manufacturers exhibited their latest displays. What is clear is that the trend toward larger notebook displays will continue. For example, this year active-matrix-display producers will begin the move from 10.4-in.-diagonal VGA (640 ¥ 480 pixel) displays to 11.3-in.-diagonal SVGA (800 ¥ 600 pixels) displays. Early in 1996, 12.1-in.-diagonal displays with XGA (1024 ¥ 768 pixels) resolution should be appearing. This size is significant because it is essentially equivalent to the active area of a 14-in. CRT deskto¥monitor. Such systems are expected to begin showing u¥for high-end industrial and design applications in which mobility is important.

Prices of both active- and passive-matrix LCDs are also coming down faster than previous estimates. The $500, 10.4-in.-diagonal active-matrix display goal now appears within reach by the end of 1996. In addition, Japan is gearing u¥to move to the third generation of active-matrix equipment lines. Still to be decided, however, is the choice of glass substrate size on which to standardize. One size would optimize for 11.3-, 15-, and 19-in.- diagonal displays, while a larger size would be best for 10.4-, 16-, and 21-in. displays. Most manufacturers think, however, that the smaller substrate will prevail.

On the performance front, most LCDs still suffer from a reduction in contrast and color shifts as the viewing angle changes. A number of approaches are under development, but a new Allied Signal company, MicroOptic Devices (Elizabeth, NJ), unveiled its technology at SID `95. By using two additional optical layers, one to collimate light before passing through the liquid crystal and a second to redistribute the light after exiting the LCD, performance is markedly increased (see photo).

Passive-matrix displays are also rapidly closing the performance ga¥with active-matrix LCDs. The color saturation of some (at least viewed head-on) is now almost as good as active- matrix devices. But there are still deficiencies in speed of response that are being met with several new addressing schemes. For example, Optrex (Tokyo, Japan) demonstrated a new amplitude-modulation, multiline-scanning technology, which, while not quite fast enough for full motion video, is getting close. The Motif (Wilsonville, OR) active addressing technology has run into problems recently, and the company is expected to make some announcements soon as to its fate.

Reflective displays

Another class of LCDs making excellent headway is reflective displays that use ambient lighting instead of power-consuming backlights. Polaroid Corp. (Cambridge, MA) revealed a new holographic reflector that achieves a two- to-threefold improvement in brightness and contrast when compared to conventional metallic reflectors. It is now approaching the production phase in Motorola`s portable product line.

Kent Display Systems (Farmington Hills, MI) also demonstrated its new reflective displays based on a class of liquid crystals called polymer-stabilized cholesteric texture. The display needs no backlight, polarizers, or power to maintain a high-contrast image. Near term, the company envisions use of these displays in point-of-purchase applications where prices could be displayed and updated only when needed. Longer term, the technology has the potential as a medium for the long elusive goal of an electronic newspaper.

In the projection arena, small-area LCDs continue to evolve, and two papers at the conference described advancements in projection lam¥efficiencies. Digital micromirror technology from Texas Instruments (TI, Dallas, TX) has now completed life testing to the point where it is actively being considered by projection manufacturers nView (Newport News, VA), Proxima (San Diego, CA), and In Focus Systems (Tualatin, OR). Sony (Tokyo, Japan) also described a high-intensity, 1980 ¥ 1080 HDTV system appropriate for the high-end professional market. By the end of the year, TI expects to complete life testing to enable products for front and rear consumer projection systems.

Planar Systems (Beaverton, OR) continues to make very good progress on its electroluminescent display technology, which has advantages in very-wide-temperature-range environments such as avionics and automotive. Fujitsu (Kawasaki, Japan) demonstrated a 21-in., full-color plasma display that has entered production, but, at $10,000, it is still a long way from an affordable hang-on-the-wall TV. The company plans to demonstrate a 42-in. version in 1996 and a 55-in. display in 1997-1998.

Field-emission-display (FED) developers were noticeably quiet at this year`s show. The only FED exhibitor was Pixtech (Rousset, France), which showed a cris¥monochrome display and a somewhat muddy color display. Overall, this year`s SID show provided a valuable update on many display technologies and demonstrated their expanding role.

Click here to enlarge image

Click here to enlarge image

Standard active-matrix LCDs suffer from image degradation when viewed from an angle (left). SpectraVue-enhanced system (right) improves the image at off-angles.

More in Optics