Despite increasing technical and financial interest in the development of active-matrix flat panel displays, alternative flat panel technologies such as passive matrix, plasma electroluminescence and even cathode ray tubes will be well positioned for years to come, Electronic News reports. Company executives at the recent Society for Information Display in Boston predicted that no clear […]
Despite increasing technical and financial interest in the development of active-matrix flat panel displays, alternative flat panel technologies such as passive matrix, plasma electroluminescence and even cathode ray tubes will be well positioned for years to come, Electronic News reports. Company executives at the recent Society for Information Display in Boston predicted that no clear winners are likely to emerge from the flat panel fray; instead, increasing diversification of the various technologies is thought the likely scenario. The development of thin-film active matrix liquid crystal displays has been dogged by pixel defects and other production problems, and take-up has been ponderous at best. That said, active matrix technology has in its favour a collective investment of around $500m by the likes of Sharp Corp, Hitachi Ltd and Toshiba Corp, who, no doubt, will be pressing for custom. Joel Pollack, US display product marketing manager for Sharp explains that, pending price reductions, his company’s active matrix system is still expected to be the long-term market leader, despite the development of a passive display which meets many user needs at half the price. There’s nothing else right now that’s been demonstrated as manufacturable with the full-colour capabilities of thin-film liquid crystal displays. Fellow passive matrix manufacturer Kyocera Corp is also turning its attention to active matrix, and is planning to have samples on show by 1994. Liquid crystal displays dominate the portable personal computer market and are expected to be the biggest sellers in terms of units and revenues. Until now, the Japanese have enjoyed a virtual monopoly in this area but a new development from the American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency could pose a threat to them. The US discovery enables allows computer makers to avoid the use of glass in screens, and hence build advanced displays on plastic sheets. Plasma units are seen to have an advantage over liquid crystal displays for applications requiring larger screens, particularly the television market. The ability of plasma technology to replace cathode ray tubes is doubted in some quarters, but the emergence of high definition television is likely to encourage interest in the field. Indeed, Texas Instruments Japan has recently signed an agreement with the Japanese public broadcasting network, Nippon Hoso Kyokai, to develop semiconductor parts for colour plasma displays. Texas Instruments will develop driver and signal processing integrated circuits from technology received from its partners. The devices will be implemented with Pulse Memory method driver technology also developed by Nippon. Other companies are continuing to seek out additional areas where a larger screen size is advantageous. Thomson-CSF SA, for example, is marketing monochrome and colour plasma displays with up to 27 diagonals primarily for military use. Plasmaco Inc is selling a 21 monochrome desktop plasma unit as a cathode ray tube alternative for personal computer and workstation users requiring extra screen space. Planar Systems Inc, the principal proponent of electro-luminescence technology has focussed on the areas of industrial, testing and medical equipment where features of wide-angle and long-distance viewing are likely to be a selling point. Sharp Corp, the only other company that is marketing electroluminescent displays, is also planning to develop new monochrome units but says that it sees no future for colour because of difficulties with cost and power.