FLEXMatters Initiative Aims to Make Ohio Hub for Flexible Displays

KENT, OH – A slew of companies and research institutions hailing from northeast Ohio have banded together with the goal of bringing existing flexible-display technology from the laboratory to the marketplace through the recently announced FLEXMatters Initiative.

The group – whose members include Kent State UniversityNorTechthe Ohio Polymer Strategy CouncilPolymerOhiotheCenter for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and DevicesKent Displays Inc., and the University of Akron  aims to build an industrial cluster in the region for manufacturing emerging products including information displays on flexible plastic substrates.

"The key to our approach is that there are no technological barriers to move from the lab to the marketplace because we look at technologies that have everything available – all the materials and substrates" explained Dr. John West, Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies at Kent State and Director of the school's Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI). "The tech industry is coming together, and the market looks like it's there, so this is really a coordinating effort between groups and an opportunity to move into the market with technology that's available."

"I think FLEXMatters is a turning point for us at Kent Displays, for Northeast Ohio, for Ohio, and even for the United States, because joining forces to try to tackle issues with making liquid-crystal films flexible makes a lot of sense," added Dr. Asad Khan, Vice Presidentfor Research and Development at Kent Displays, Inc. "For manufacturers and researchers, as well as suppliers, the entire infrastructure is established as we undertake this endeavor. Now, within Kent Displays, FLEXMatters is a major initiative to go to this next level where we would manufacture flexible displays right here in Kent, Ohio. And, therefore, it makes tremendous sense to join with FLEXMatters and do it all together."

The initiative, which West formally announced at SID's International Display Research Conference (IDRC) at the LCI in September, will take advantage of northeast Ohio's existing status as a hub for flexible-display research, according to West.

"The opportunity is based on this region's lead in liquid-crystal-display research, complemented by northeast Ohio's core industrial strengths in polymers and printing," West said in a press release. "Industrial research centers around the world, including here in Kent, are pursuing the development of these flexible devices; however, the manufacturing base has yet to develop. We're aiming to develop that base here."

According to Khan, the successful development of that base will depend on tackling manufacturing problems locally.

"Today's technologies are already there, so we are leveraging the simple nature of these technologies, and it's the simple nature of these technologies that makes it possible for us to do it. And it's having access to this dis-play technology that other companies, particularly the powerhouses out in the Far East, don't have access to."

— Jessica Quandt

LG.Philips LCD Introduces 1.3-mm TFT-LCD

SEOUL, Korea – LG.Philips LCD (LPL) has developed a new ultra-slim thin-film-transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal display (LCD) for mobile-phone applications, paving the way for thinner phones and challenging organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) technology in the battle for thinnest display, the company said at the end of September.

At 1.3 mm (including the module), LPL's new panel is the world's slimmest TFT-LCD and will enable manufacturers to produce cellular phones even thinner than today's 6.9-mm-thick phones and 10-mm-thick slide-up phones, according to the company. The company claims that the new LCD is thinner than OLED screens, which are typically 1.5-1.8 mm, LPL said. According to a company statement, the super-slim LCD "refutes the myth that LCDs are thicker than OLEDs."

Key to the successful development of the new LCD panel was maintaining durability while reducing thickness, explained LPL Spokesperson Ellie Choo.

"As for the thickness issue, industry peers had the etching technology but failed to address the yield-rate issue," Choo said. "As LG.Philips LCD lifted the yield rate to the level of mass production, it was able to develop a super-slim 1.3-mm-thick LCD panel."

LPL tackled the durability issue by using a patent-pending structural modification technology to provide greater durability without the need for a stainless-steel plate to protect the display's components, Choo added. The company also jointly developed a 0.3-mm-thick ultra-thin light-guide plate with a local backlighting-unit manufacturer, in addition to an ultra-thin glass substrate with LPL's LCD etching technology.

The company plans to mass produce 1.5-mm-thick LCD panels starting in the first quarter of 2007 and will mass produce the 1.3-mm-thick panels once it receives requests from customers, Choo said. LPL believes that will happen around the third quarter of 2007.

LG.Philips LCD unveiled its new super-slim LCD at the SID Mobile Displays Conference, which took place Oct. 3-5 in San Diego, California, USA.

— Jessica Quandt

New Group to Promote Advantages of Microdisplay TV

TOKYO, Japan – Microdisplay device projection (MDDP) TVs are ready to vault into the public eye with the launch of the Micro Device Display Projection Consortium (MDDPC), a group formed in late September by four of the industry's leading companies.Arisawa Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Seiko Epson Corp., Texas Instruments, Inc., and Victor Company of Japan Ltd. (JVC)have joined forces to create the consortium, which will promote the advantages of microdisplay TV in an effort to spread awareness of the technology.

"Our promotion is to announce the exact MDDP status to everybody, even in the U.S.," said Shintaro Nakagaki, Associate Director of JVC and one of the MDDPC's representative directors. "Dealers, consumers, and others do not know exact MDDP (information), such as current performance, advantages, future performance, and so on."

In addition to the four founding companies, 3M Co.Luminus Devices, Inc.Samsung Japan Corp., and SCRAM Technologies, Inc., are endorsing the group, and a recent call for members yielded several applications, according to a consortium spokesperson.

The MDDPC has laid out plans for its publicity efforts including a new Web site (www.md-display.com), a brochure summarizing the advantages of MDTV, promotional materials to be distributed at point-of-purchase displays, and the acquisition of energy-efficiency labels. The group also plans to sponsor public demonstrations of member companies' MDDP TVs at industry events.

The MDDP TV group hopes to make clear advantages of microdisplay TV, including its thin depth and light weight, its super-low-power consumption, and its use of light-emitting diode (LED) and laser solid-state backlights, which MDDPC claims gives microdisplay TVa better color gamut and reduces the unit's weight while achieving 30,000 hours of lighting-source lifetime.

According to the MDDPC, MDDP TVs outperform conventional cathode-ray-tube (CRT) projection TVs in brightness, resolution, and viewing angle. The consortium will focus its efforts on heralding these advantages in the large-screen market, most likely in the 50-in.-plus category, Nakagaki said.

"This will be continued until we have a stable market for MDDP," he added.

— Jessica Quandt

New Three-Way-View Sharp LCD Has Every Angle Covered

TOKYO, Japan – Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are getting a makeover from Sharp Corp. and Sharp Laboratories of Europe, Ltd., which announced on Sept. 27 that it had developed a controlled viewing-angle LCD capable of displaying three different images at once from different angles.

The Sharp Triple Directional Viewing LCD splits light into three directions – left, right, and center – using a proprietary parallax barrier on a standard thin-film-transistor (TFT) LCD, according to the company. Sharp will target the displays at the digital signage, auto-motive, entertainment, and point-of-sale markets where one display caters to multiple viewers.

"The resolution of images on the triple-viewing-angle LCD is one-third of a base panel, but ergonomically a viewer will not feel like it's a third of a normal display because the triple-viewing-angle LCD has devised the means to minimize picture deterioration," according to a company spokesperson. "Picture quality doesn't vary depending on the angle ant which you're watching it."

Using the new display, a digital sign could display advertisements for three different businesses to passersby coming from three different directions. In an automotive application, the driver could look at an on-screen map while the passenger surfs the internet, and the children in the back seat watch a DVD. The company hopes its versatile display will create new demands in these markets.

"Mass production is planned to start in 2008, with products aimed at the automotive market, for information displays, e.g., digital signage, for entertainment such as arcade games, and for ATM machines," explained the Sharp spokesperson. "A production capacity of 1 million pieces per month is possible for controlled-viewing-angle products; this will be expanded to meet future customer and market demand."

As for when the triple-view LCD will also be ready for commercial application, the spokesperson said, there are still obstacles to overcome.

"We are looking to optimize the design in order to increase the display brightness and meet the specific requirements for the different markets," according to the Sharp representative.

— Jessica Quandt

Display Briefs

DoD Awards eMagin $2.75M for OLED Device Development

BELLEVUE, WA – The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has budgeted $2.75M in fiscal year 2007 to support two organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology projects to be carried out by eMagin Corp. (www.emagin.com), the company announced on Oct. 3. The first project will focus on improving the power efficiency of OLED microdisplays for U.S. Army thermal-imaging applications, while the second aims to produce a very-high-resolution high-definition (HD) compatible display for Army medical applications.

"Our recent gains in developing our OLED-XL™ technology were dramatic, but research in the OLED industry indicates that the technology can be even more power efficient," eMagin Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Susan Jones said in a company statement. "This project will get more efficient thermal imagers to our soldiers sooner."

eMagin said the project will eventually result in a power-efficient microdisplay and interface suitable for thermal-imaging devices for Army troops, providing at least a 3x reduction in power from legacy technologies.

The second project will involve the design and test of very-high-resolution microdisplays for medical training simulations and battlefield medicine.

"That means achieving the finest pixel-pitch for any display, ever," Jones said. "The benefits for medical training and practice will mean more lives saved, more wounds correctly diagnosed and treated."

The effort will focus on the design and prototyping of these ultra-high-resolution microdisplays, as well as the conceptual optical design to provide confidence that a wide field of view, compact, and lightweight head-mounted display system can be built to meet the military's stringent medicine training and simulation requirements, the company said.