Corning Goes Green with New Environmentally Friendly Glass Substrate

CORNING, N.Y. – Specialty glass giant Corning Inc. in March launched a new environmentally friendly glass substrate it believes will give liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) a compelling edge in their ongoing battle with plasma technology.

Corning said its new EAGLE XG substrate is the first LCD glass to be entirely free of all heavy metals—including arsenic, antimony and barium, plus halides such as chlorine and fluorine—which can create environmentally harmful by-products. Company representatives said the exclusion of pollutants would give customers a break in costs associated with recycling challenges and impending Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations.

"The whole idea is that it's good for the LCD platform," said Dr. Peter Bocko, the division vice president and director of commercial technology for Corning's display group. "For example, plasma makers are trying very hard to eliminate lead in the plasma panel. And they've actually gotten a variance for the RoHS in order to continue to use (lead). We just didn't want to put our customers in that position where they had to make excuses for using our glass. So we believe that in the battleground that decides where both LCD and plasma will coexist and compete, this further supports the LCD platform."

Calls to several plasma manufacturers for comment were not returned by press time.

The key advantage of the EAGLE XG glassover other LCD substrates is its lack of arsenic, Bocko said. Arsenic is frequently used in the manufacture of LCD substrates to eliminate the bubbles that can form at the surface of the glass and cause pixel defects. Corning has spent the past decade researching how to prevent these surface bubbles without the use of arsenic.

"We recognized that in the long term, we need-ed to eliminate all the heavy metals, and whether or not this was legislated, it was certainly very important to our customers," Bocko said.

Commercially launched in March, the EAGLE XG substrate is already in mass production and is enjoying an "extraordinarily positive" response from LCD manufacturers, Bocko said, in part because manufacturers can transfer to EAGLE XG from Corning's previous substrate line, called EAGLE, with minimal optimization and switching cost.

Because of customer enthusiasm and the ease of transition, Corning has already started production on Gen-8 substrates rather than starting with smaller displays as it usually does with a new glass. Sharp Corp. has already committed to using the EAGLE XG Gen-8 substrates in the 40-in.-plus LCD TVs manufactured at its Mie Prefecture facility scheduled to open later this year.

"We're going to be starting from day one with the TFT (thin-film transistor) grade Gen 8 of EAGLE XG, and so we're actually ahead of schedule," Bocko said. "I think we're a little faster than the customers, and we have the capability."

See Corning at SID 20006 at Booth 330.

— Jessica Quandt

Mitsubishi Announces Launch of Laser-Based RPTV

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – At its National Dealer Line Show in early April, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America unveiled what it claimed is the world's first laser-based high-definition (HD) television.

The 52-in. digital-light-processing (DLP) rear-projection (RP) TV uses separate red, green and blue lasers to create what Mitsubishi calls the richest high-definition (HD) picture and widest color gamut currently available while maintaining a super-slim and ultra-light total package. According to Mitsubishi, the color gamut allowed by this combination is the widest of any display source and is 1.8 times that of liquid-crystal displays (LCDs).

In addition to a rich picture, Mitsubishi is promising its laser TVs will have lower power consumption and longer life than other display technologies at about 20,000 hours. According to an April article published in The New York Times, Mitsubishi representatives said laser TV uses about one-third the power of large-screen TVs that depend on lamps as light sources. Mitsubishi's lasers turn on and off as needed and don't need to be on at full power whenever the TV is in use, unlike traditional lamp-based technologies.

Mitsubishi hailed its laser TV as the best option for a super-lightweight set that takes up even less space in living rooms than LCD or plasma TVs, thanks to the lightweight plastics used for its screens instead of the heavy glass found in plasmas and LCDs. When combined with a compact cabinet design, these sets weigh about half as much as comparably sized plasmas, according to Mitsubishi.

"Mitsubishi laser HDTV technology will not only deliver unsurpassed color reproduction, but will also enable new cabinet designs that are truly unique and revolutionary," said Mitsubishi Digital Electronics of America Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Frank DeMartin in a company statement.

According to the Times article, Mitsubishi expects the sets to hit stores in late 2007 at price points comparable to 52-in. and larger plasma sets.

— Jessica Quandt

Seiko Epson Develops Silicon Film to Compete with LTPS-TFT

TOKYO – Seiko Epson Corp. announced in April that it has developed a new high-quality silicon film, using both liquid spin-coating and ink-jet patterning processes, that the company says has the potential to reduce the costs and environmental hazards associated with conventional low-temperature-polysilicon thin-film transistor (LTPS-TFT) manufacturing methods.

Epson claims these are the world's first high-quality silicon films formed through liquid coating and ink-jet patterning processes. The first was produced using a spin-coat method that yields the same quality of results as the more conventional chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method, the company said. The traditional CVD method uses huge vacuum devices to form the film and photolithography equipment to transfer the pattern. In addition to the costliness of the vacuum and photolithography equipment, the CVD process uses environmentally harmful solvents.

In August 1998, Epson began researching for an alternative method for producing low-cost high-quality LTPS-TFTs using organic semiconductors that can be formed from liquids. Epson's work resulted in a high-order silane compound of hydrogen and silicon dissolved in an organic solvent, which forms a thin film when spin-coated onto a substrate developed by JSR Corp. and baked in an inert atmosphere, according to a company statement. The film achieves approximately the same electron mobility as films made using CVD, according to Epson, making the product a potential alternative to CVD-produced films.

Epson has also been using its proprietary "micro liquid processes" to develop TFTs producedthrough ink-jet printing. Because the process uses liquid materials, ink-jet printers can be used to transfer the patterns instead of the expensive and environmentally harmful photolithography equipment.

"Ink-jet technology provides a potentially more efficient way to do the same job (as spin-coating) since it is a very precise method of applying the liquid crystal to the substrate," explained Epsonspokesperson Alastaire Bourne.

Still, electron mobility achieved via ink-jet printing is lower than that reached through spin-coating, according to Epson, and improvements need to be made to the process before Epson's ink-jet-printed TFTs are ready for the mass market.

"Basically, all efforts to improve the process center around making it a cost-effective manufacturing process that delivers products of a consistently high quality for use in displays, etc.," Bourne said. "This project is still in the R&D phase, and no precise plans have been made for its commercial development as of yet."

— Jessica Quandt


Philips Spins Off Liquavista to Develop Electrowetting Displays

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands – Backed by venture-capital firm New Venture PartnersPhilips Research launched a spin-off company in April called Liquavista B.V. that aims to commercialize electro-wetting displays for mobile applications within the next year.

Based on technology developed in 2002 by Rob Hayes and Johan Feenstra, Liquavista's electrowetting displays use an electric voltage to contract an oil film that has been colored with dissolved dyes. According to Liquavista, this allows for easy optical switching, high brightness and video speed and low power consumption.

While electrowetting as an effect has been known about for about 150 years, Philips has only been working with the technology for about 12 years, according to Liquavista's Chief Executive Officer Mark Gostick.

"It's only very recently that through improvements in materials, it's actually become practical to make miniature devices using electrowetting," Gostick said. "Liquavista has a road map that starts off with very simple products for displays, things like watches and MP3 players. Then it builds up through mobile-phone subdisplays, through GPS (global positioning system) devices, ultimately towards mobile-phone main displays and PC displays."

Early products might hit the market as early as next year, according to Gostick. Further down the line, Liquavista is discussing the possibility of video electronic paper. Although the contrast and reflective properties of electrowetting displays are similar to those of e-paper, according to the company, electrowetting displays lack the bistability that allows e-paper to freeze and hold an image while using little power.

"What we have instead of that is very fast switching times, so we can make video e-paper, if that's not a contradiction of terms," Gostick explained. "We can make something that is very highly reflective but has an inherent capacity to show video at very low power."

Electrowetting products can use many of the same materials as LCDs, such as active-matrix backplanes, but the process eliminates the need for and cost of extra supplies including polarizers and retarder films. It also cuts out the filling and sealing processes that often cause yield loss in LCD manufacturing, Gostick said. In addition, electrowetting uses much of the same equipment as LCDs, making the manufacturing processes highly compatible.

See Liquavista at the SID 2006 Exhibition in Booth 926.

— Jessica Quandt

Display Briefs

LG.Philips LCD (SID Booth 932) in April began mass-production at P7, the company's seventh-generation thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (TFT-LCD) plant in the Paju Display Cluster in Korea. The plant will produce 42- and 47-in. LCD-TV panels, using 1950 x 2250 mm glass substrates. LG.Philips LCD expects P7's monthly production capacity to reach 45,000 panels by June and 90,000 panels by the end of 2006.

Novaled (SID Booth 1230) and Ciba Specialty Chemicals announced in April their collaboration in producing unique organic dopant and transport materials for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Ciba Specialty Chemicals will produce the dopant and transport materials, which were developed by Novaled. Novaled will continue to market the materials. The two companies will also collaborate on the development of future OLED products and platforms based on Novaled's technology and materials.

Samsung Electronics Co. (SID Booth 1002) and Sony Corp. on April 10 signed a letter of intent stating they will manufacture Gen-8 amorphous silicon (aSi) thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (TFT-LCD) panels through their joint venture, S-LCD Corp.The two companies aim to sign a definitive agreement by the end of June 2006. According to details released by Samsung, the new TFT-LCD line will consist of panels approximately 2200 x 2500 mm in size, which will be produced at the S-LCD fab in Tangjeong, ChungCheongNam-Do, Korea. S-LCD Corp. will invest approximately $2 billion in the new line, which is targeted to begin production in fall of 2007. The planned production capacity is 50,000 panels per month.

Sharp Corp. (SID Booth 502) announced in April its intention to construct a facility for the manufacture of LCD modules in the north-central part of Poland. The facility will begin production of LCD modules in January 2007, according to a statement from Sharp. The modules will be used in large-screen LCD TVs manufactured in plants at Sharp Electrónica España S.A. in Spain and Loewe Opta GmbH in Germany. Sharp said it would make an initial investment of about 44 million Euros in the plant, which will employ approximately 800 workers when it opens.

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