Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Philips says flexible thin TV is not far
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Researchers at Philips said they had achieved breakthroughs in display
technologies which in a few years time can be used to build much thinner
TVs for a fraction of today's cost.
The Dutch electronics company, which also manufactures hospital equipment,
chips and shavers, showed journalists this week how it has advanced with
efforts to build flat and flexible displays from plastics and other new
The new technologies and production methods are aimed to replace today's
cutting edge Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Plasma-based displays which
are becoming increasingly popular with consumers as they replace computer
monitors and TVs.
Electronics firms are investing billion of dollars in LCD production lines
every year to boost capacity -- Philips itself is one of the world's
biggest producers together with South Korea's LG Electronics.
The Dutch firm unveiled a 13-inch widescreen display made of PolyLED,
which is Philips' own version of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs).
Philips hopes PolyLED displays will eventually be easier and cheaper to
produce than OLED displays.
Philips said it will show prototypes at the annual SID displays conference
in Seattle next week.
At the same show, U.S.-based IBM and Taiwan's display maker Chi Mei
Optoelectronics will present a 20-inch OLED display developed by a joint
research group, which is considered by industry pundits as another
breakthrough at the show.
Philips reckons the new technology has the potential to be much cheaper
than existing flat panels, because the light emitting material, which
emits light when turned on with a current, can be printed on a surface
much like office printers deposit millions of tiny drops of ink on paper.
The prototype display is printed on glass, in order to keep the material
in place, but the company is looking hard to find alternative, flexible
materials that will do the same.
The first full color PolyLED displays are "close to the market", while the
first would be used as external displays on fold-away mobile phones.
PolyLED screens for the bigger internal displays are on the roadmap for
Between 2006 and 2008 Philips expects full color PolyLED screens to pop up
in portable DVD players and car seats to entertain children. Big screen
TVs are expected by 2009.
PolyLed and OLED screens can be much thinner. Unlike an LCD or plasma
screen, which are based on color filtering, they do not require a
backlight. Instead the red, green and yellow materials themselves emit
PolyLED and OLED displays are more energy-efficient than LCDs, because
they only emit light when needed, as opposed to the backlight of an LCD
display which is always on.
Additional benefits are much higher contrast and OLED screens have a much
wider viewing angle compared with LCD.
One remaining hurdle is the lifespan of the blue color polymer Olds. It is
not yet long enough to build TVs that will have to function for many
thousands of hours, although the lifespan has already been trebled in just
the last six months.
The prototype PolyLED display will last only 1,000 hours.
Philips will also show a new LCD manufacturing technology, which allows
printing on flexible surfaces like plastic, after having improved a
technology that was announced two years ago. It will initially be used to
show simple, static pictures.