TOKYO Field Emission Technologies Inc., a Japanese R&D firm spun out of Sony in 2006, announced that it is poised to mass produce 26-inch field-emission display (FED) panels by the end of 2009.
Compared with other flat-panel technologies such as LCDs and plasma displays, FEDs have long been known for their superior performance, including higher contrast ratio, lower power consumption and wider viewing angle. Charles Spindt at SRI International developed the principles for FED technology in 1968.
Despite all of its advantages, FED has one big drawback: They are hard to make.
| CEO and president Shohei Hasegawa (shown) shows off FE Technologies' 19.2-inch prototype FED panel|
No one has been able to mass produce FEDs as a video display due to several technical issues. Manufacturing challenges include problems related to field-emitter structures and the difficulty of attaining high vacuum levels required by FEDs.
FE Technologies claims to have found solutions to the mass-production problem.
FEDs are similar to CRTs. Instead of a single electron gun, FE Technologies' FED uses a large array of cone-shaped electrodes, called "Spindts." Many Spindts positioned behind each phosphor dot emit electrons through a process known as field emission.
By charging at 9kV electro differentials between anode and cathode substrates, electrons are generated that light up fluorescent material located in front of anode substrate. Electron generation is controlled by a gate electrode.
Spindt structures use the field-emission principle, which generates electrons into a vacuum at room temperature. There is no need for heating, the company said, since the process leverages a tunnel effect. Self discharge between the emitter and gate electrode is blocked by using a resistance layer.
A conventional Spindt device was structured by assigning one Spindt per pixel. Therefore, the size of each Spindt needed to be exactly identical. Otherwise, the brightness of each pixel became uneven, lowering image quality.
FE Technologies corrected this problem by placing multiple numbers of Spindts, called Nano-Spindt Structure, per pixel, thus evening Spindt differentials.
"Fourteen hundred Spindts are required to keep pixel brightness differentials within 2 percent," said Hiroyuki Ikeda, general manager of marketing at FE Technologies. Using this structure, the electric current per Spindt decreased while Spindt operating lifetime was improved, the company said.