MANHASSET, N.Y. Carbon nanotubes are expected to become an important enabling technology in future large area flat-screen TVs, according to Zvi Yaniv, chief executive of nanotechnology IP company Applied Nanotech Inc.
In an interview with EE Times Friday, Yaniv said carbon nanotubes could be find their way into liquid crystal display (LCD) TV backlights as early as 2007, as a new generation of mercury-free flat lamps emerges to replace cold-cathode fluorescent lamps. This would make it possible to build lower-cost backlights to help cut the cost of building 40 to 60-inch flat-panel LCD TVs, according to Yaniv.
Applied Nanotech (Austin, Texas), a subsidiary of Nano-Proprietary Inc., has developed a carbon nanotube lamp construction utilizing the company’s patented carbon nanotube inks and printing techniques. The backlight’s construction, different from the usual triode structure used for carbon nanotube TVs, comprises front glass covered with the phosphor coating and a back cathode glass that includes the company’s metallic and carbon nanotube inks.
According to the company, the processes involve only printing and can produce lamps at low cost to accommodate the needs of the large LCD TV market. Applied Nanotech expects its technology to eventually make possible the development of 32-inch backlights consuming as little as 50 to 60 watts.
Applied Nanotech is expected to demonstrate a backlight using carbon nanotube technology at NanoEurope 2005, a nanotechnology trade show and conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland, next month.
Yaniv said being able to print rather than grow the carbon nanotubes would be key to bringing down the cost of producing carbon nanotubes, as the printing process improves uniformity and yields.
He noted that besides Applied Nanotech, a number of display companies in the Far East, including Samsung, are also developing carbon nanotube technology for LCD backlights.
The implications for the display market could be enormous, according to Yaniv. "Plasma displays under 60 in. will not survive once LCDs come up (in size)," he said.
For the time being, the 40 to 60-inch flat-panel TV market remains a stronghold for plasma displays, according to a recent study by DisplaySearch Inc. (Austin, Texas) showing that plasma TV sales have overtaken those of rear projection CRT TVs.
But Yaniv expects further carbon nanotube technology development to help CRT technology fight off larger plasma screens, by making it possible to build a new generation of large flat-screen CRT TVs.
Applied Nanotech faces stiff competition in this area also. In May, Motorola Labs, the applied research arm of Motorola Inc., unveiled a flat carbon nanotube emissive display that uses much of the same production equipment used for CRTs.
Also in the large flat-panel TV mix is surface-conduction electron-emitter display technology, which Canon and Toshiba are bringing to market through joint venture company SED Inc..