SID Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

by Larry Weber

On September 29, 2012, the Society for Information Display celebrated its 50th anniversary at the site of the original organizing meeting.  SID was founded in Room 3400, Boelter Hall, UCLA, on September 29, 1962, by Dr. Harold R. Luxenberg and 39 attendees who represented major high-tech firms.  Three of those 39 attendees attended the 50th anniversary celebration (sponsored by the SID LA chapter):  Phil Damon, Dail D. Douchette, and Robert C. Knepper.

3400 Boelter Hall is a large room that has for more than 50 years been used as a lecture hall.  A special commemorative plaque has been prepared that will be placed at the entrance of this room, commemorating the founding of SID.  SID President Brian Berkeley presented this plaque to UCLA Dean Vijay K. Dhir of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.  In accepting the plaque, Dean Dhir remarked that most of the current students who attend lectures in 3400 Boelter Hall are now using the display devices in class that were developed by the members of SID.


Shown along with the 50th anniversary commemorative plaque are, left to right, Past-President Erv Ulbrich, Past-President Larry Tannas, current SID President Brian Berkeley, UCLA Dean Vijay K. Dhir of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Carol Tannas.  The Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas, Jr., Endowed Chair in Engineering at UCLA is the first engineering chair in the world devoted to electronic information displays.


Preceding the formal anniversary ceremonies, the attendees were treated to a series of excellent lectures by six prominent display experts.  Larry Tannas of Tannas Electronics kicked things off by discussing the evolution of SID.  He explained how in June of 1961 Dr. Harold R. Luxenberg initiated a UCLA Extension class entitled Information Display Systems.  This class drew attention to the need for an international society for displays.  In a little over a year after this first class, Luxenberg led the organizational meeting that formed SID 50 years ago and he became SID’s first President.  In 1963, SID’s second President, Rudolf L. Kuehn, inaugurated the “SID Journal,” which is now known as Information Display magazine.

Tannas then reviewed the history of the rise of LCDs to become the dominant display technology of today.  This story included the early dynamic-scattering displays, the invention of twisted-nematic LCDs, the super-twisted-nematic (STN) development, the introduction of the amorphous-silicon thin-film-transistor AMLCDs, and the ultimate dominance of AMLCDs as large-area TV displays.

Next, Professor Ching Tang of the University of Rochester, well-known inventor of the OLED, discussed the OLED and its history.  In the ’60s, electroluminescence was observed in anthracene, but the devices were very thick and the voltages much too high.  The big breakthrough was first published in 1987 by Ching Tang and Steve VanSlyke.  This described the fundamental OLED structure that is so familiar today.  OLEDs succeeded because (1) highly emissive molecular RGB emitters can be designed and synthesized, (2) the charge-transport problem in organics is manageable, (3) robust desiccant/encapsulation technology is available, and (4) they can piggyback on LCD backplane technology.  To develop the very beautiful and practical OLEDs of today, other breakthroughs were achieved, such as high-efficiency phosphorescent materials, solutions to life problems in both organic materials and thin-film transistors, and the discovery of manufacturable lithography methods.

Prof. Ho Kyoon Chung of Sungkyunkwan University, best known for his pioneering R&D of OLEDs at Samsung SDI, discussed AMOLED TV challenges.  He first reviewed the current business status, then cited four key issues of AMOLED TV manufacturing:

• The TFT backplane: polysilicon or oxide semiconductor?
• R/G/B side by side or white OLED plus color filters?
• When will printed OLEDs be practical?
• How to differentiate from LCD (LED-backlit) TV?

Regarding the fourth issue, he stated that OLEDs could differentiate themselves from LCDs through innovations such as transparent OLEDs and plastic-substrate OLEDs.  After covering the many advantages and challenges of plastic OLEDs, he stated his dream of having practical roll-to-roll AMOLEDs by 2019.

Prof. Shuji Nakamura of the University of California Santa Barbara, who is well known for developing practical commercial GaN blue LEDs, was not able to attend, but his Ph.D. student Yuji Zhao did an excellent job explaining their research on improved LEDs.  One exciting area is the development of LEDs that emit polarized light.  This could potentially increase the power efficiency of LED-backlit LCDs by reducing light lost in the LCD polarizer.  An added benefit of their new process is LEDs with reduced droop in light output as drive current is increased.  The researchers are also developing high-efficiency green LEDs that fill the notorious green gap by using methods that allow a greater amount of soluble indium in the crystals of InGaN.

Prof. Shin-Tson Wu of the University of Central Florida described how the LCDs of the future will require three times less backlight power by eliminating color filters through the use of the color-field-sequential approach with LED backlights and micro-second-response-time blue-phase liquid crystals.  He detailed two new approaches for solving one of the key problems with blue phase by reducing the typically high 50 V drive voltage to only 10 V.  This reduction will allow practical a-Si TFT addressing.  Prof. Wu then presented possible approaches to achieving an additional factor-of-two power reduction by eliminating the LCD polarizers.

David Barnes of BizWitz made the business case for the future of OLEDs.  AMOLEDs are exciting because they are emissive displays.  They can be used to re-purpose existing AMLCD assets and create a better cost structure with less materials cost.  Materials have been just under two thirds of cost for AMLCDs, and the inability to reduce this ratio as production ramped up is a major reason why many AMLCD manufacturers have recently experienced significant losses.  AMOLED manufacturers are seeking an advantage through technology, but the differing choices, such as RGB vs. color by white, made by different manufacturers will slow overall industry development.  In the end, AMOLED displays have the potential to become the next new display commodity.

SID has had a glorious past 50 years, but, more importantly, the attendees of the 50th Anniversary Celebration walked away with the sense that display technology continues to have a very exciting future. •


Larry Weber is a Past-President of SID.  He can be reached at