Pioneer develops flexible EL display

Pioneer has shown for the first time a recently developed organic electroluminescence (EL) display that uses film instead of glass for the substrate and so is very lightweight and thin and can be bent. EL display technology is one of a number of candidates vying to replace current-generation liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The display, unveiled at the CEATEC electronics show, represents the culmination of two years of research and development work at Pioneer, the company said in a statement. It is constructed using organic elements, the company said. Pioneer embarked on development of a display based on a film substrate after it completed commercialization of the world's first color EL display in September 1998. Unlike conventional LCDs, which sandwich liquid crystal between two glass substrates and usually need a backlight, organic EL elements are self-emitting, removing the need for a backlight, and form a film so thin as to be insignificant compared with the thickness of the board. This means the entire display is practically the same weight and dimensions as the board on which it is built, in this case a piece of plastic film. The prototype display is just 0.2mm thick, weighs less than 1g and offers high brightness and visibility. It has a display area of 44.8mm by 22.4mm, which, with a dot pitch of 0.35mm, translates into a display matrix of 128-x-64 pixels. At present it is only monochrome - the standard color being green - but other single colours also are available, said Pioneer. The company still has some work to do before the new film display can be commercialized, but it said it hopes to begin building it into products, beginning with devices such as mobile telephones, from 2003. It is the mobile phone and device market where the company sees a great potential for the product. One of the main reasons is the brightness and low power consumption of the display, helped by the removal of the backlight. However, ELs also boast a refresh rate more than 1,000 times that of LCDs, making them suitable for display of fast-moving animation. Sanyo and Eastman Kodak are also leading development of EL displays and last year announced the development of color displays based on glass substrates similar to Pioneer's announced a year earlier. Earlier this year LG Electronics said it was commercializing the technology with the launch of a new mobile telephone that incorporates an EL display.

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