Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Japanese company - FET - promises FED panel mass production by late 2009

EE Times

TOKYO — FE Technologies, a Japanese R&D firm spun out of Sony in 2006, announced that the company is poised to mass produce 26-inch FED panels by the end of 2009. The company is focused on the development of Field Emission Display (FED).

Compared with other flat panel technologies such as LCDs and plasma displays, FED has long been known for its superior characteristics. They include: a higher contrast ratio, lower power consumption and wider viewing angle. Charles Spindt at Stanford Research Institute developed the principles of FED in 1968.

Despite all of its advantages, FED has one big drawback: its manufacturability.

Nobody has been able to mass produce FED as a video display, due to a number of technical issues. They include problems related to a structure of filed emitters and difficulty of attaining high vacuum levels required by FEDs.

The Japanese company claims to have found solutions to the mass production problem.

Principles of FE Technologies' FED

Field emission displays are similar to CRTs. Instead of a single electron gun, FE Technologies' FED uses a large array of cone-shaped electrodes, called "Spindt." Many Spindts positioned behind each phosphor dot emit electrons through a process known as field emission.

By charging 9kV electro differentials between anode and cathode substrates, electrons are generated and light up fluorescent material located in front of anode substrate. Electron generation is controlled by gate electrode.

Spindt structure uses the field emission principle, which generates electron into air-vacuumed region at room temperature. There is no need for heating, said the company, as it leverages Tunnel effect. Self discharge between emitter and gate electrode is blocked by placing resistance layer. Conventional type of Spindt is structured by one Spindt per pixel. Therefore, size of each Spindt needs to be exactly identical. Otherwise, brightness of each pixel becomes uneven, thus lowering image quality. FE Technologies evened Spindt differentials by placing multiple numbers of Spindts, called Nano-Spindt Structure.

"1,400 Spindts are required to keep pixel brightness differentials within 2 percent," said Hiroyuki Ikeda, general manager of marketing at F. E. Technologies. By implementing this structure, electric current per Spindt has decreased and life of Spindt itself has improved, according to the company.

Sony spin-off

FE Technologies was founded by investment from Sony and a few other companies.

The mission of the company is to investigate FED business opportunity, said Shohei Hasegawa, FE Technologies President and C.E.O. "Idea of becoming independent was triggered by successful development of spacer materials," he explained.

FED requires a high vacuum level. Spacer material which holds its shape between anode and cathode substrate against the air pressure is necessary. "We needed to develop electrically transparent material, which neither charges itself nor becomes conductive, but can maintain an electro field between anode and cathode " in parallel."

In time for the FED panel mass production in late 2009, FE Technologies is scheduled to acquire Pioneer's Kagoshima plant before the end of 2008. The Japanese company will invest $183 million to $274 million (20 to 30 billion yen) in manufacturing equipment.

FE Technologies will use the company's fourth generation glass substrate (730mm x 920mm). Each substrate will allow them to produce a pair of 26-inch panels.

The company will proceed with the mass production of FED panels by using 5,000 glass substrates per month. The initial application for FE Technologies' 26-inch FED panels will be "master" monitors, used at TV broadcasting stations, to check picture quality. Neither LCDs nor PDPs are said to satisfy the high quality standard required by such master monitors.

— Yoichiro Hata is managing editor of EE Times Japan.


Does the Nano-Spindt Structure include CNTs?
I do not know - perhaps - 1400 points per pixel is getting nano, indeed, and nothing is more nano than CNTs! We will have to see when they are sold whether they contain CNTs or not.