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Company sizes up LCD's future

Post Time:Mar 16,2009Classify:Company NewsView:470

Display glass leads to larger TVs and 3-D capabilities

As LCD television buyers moved toward larger-larger screen models, Corning Inc. had to move to keep up.

As a result, the company developed a process to manufacture larger sheets of glass more economically. That meant a whole new technology for Corning to develop, said Raymond Greene, manager for Corning Inc.'s Digital Display Lab in Painted Post.

The reaction to the market demands is just one of many steps Corning scientists and engineers have taken to come up with new applications for one of its core products - display glass.

"Three or four years ago was the first introduction of the Gen 7 substrate that was targeted to 40- and 46-inch television sizes," Greene said. "Now that technology is mature, and two years ago it was Gen 8 substrates targeted at 46- and 52-inch."

As screen sizes keep growing, Corning is building new capacity for the next generation of display glass panels. The company, Greene said, has an investment in Japan to build a Gen 10 substrate for models up to 65 inches.

"Gen 10 can make six 65-inch display glass from one substrate," Greene said.

But the increasing screen size of LCD TV sets isn't the only change happening in the industry. Engineers also are coming up with new applications for the technology, many of which were displayed in January at the annual Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas.

"The underlying economic incentives are there," said Bob Quinn, Corning's business analysis & reporting display technologies manager. "People are creating the demand for these products, and the industry continues to find cheaper and better ways to make them."

For Corning's researchers, the challenge then becomes finding ways to optimize the qualities of display glass so that it enhances a particular application, but at the same time limits costs.

In order for display glass to enable the new display applications, Greene said, it must be "green," thin, lightweight but strong, large but dimensionally stable, flat and free of impurities. The glass sheets also must be optically uniform, compatible with both liquid crystal and thin film electronics materials while still having relatively low manufacturing costs.

Corning, he said, is continually working to improve its display glass with new materials and manufacturing technologies to enable these new applications.

As examples, he cited Corning's Jade glass, engineered for systems and devices requiring high resolutions and lower power consumption, and Gorilla glass, a scratch-resistant product that can be used in touch-screen applications.

Another innovation displayed in Las Vegas used LCD to create a three-dimensional - 3-D - image. The process requires two display panels - one panel behind the other - instead of the single panel needed for regular LCD television sets. Three-D technology, however, still has a few bugs to work out before it's a mainstream product in the United States.

There are five different techniques for creating 3-D images, said Bob Boudreau, Corning's Technology Development Manager, Commercial Display Technology. Each requires display glass that is smoother, flatter and thinner than what is used in regular LCD TV sets. Corning is developing glass with these features, and they work for 3-D displays that require the viewer to wear special glasses.

The 3D displays that don't require the glasses have special optical elements on or behind the glass surface, said Boudreau, such as lenses or barriers to make them work. Philips and Alioscopy are two leading companies in Europe that make these, as well as Dimension Technologies Inc. in Rochester.

Corning, he said, already supplies the basic glass for 3-D, since the displays are usually built on the foundation of a standard two-dimensional display panel. The company also is trying to understand this form of future display to see where it might contribute to enhance it.

"The television technology is already here, and the technology in the glass is already here," Boudreau said. "It's going to be sold in the U.S. in a matter of months, rather than years."

Source: stargazette.comAuthor: shangyi

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