Several times a year, the DFF, an industry-led association of the flat-panel sector, invites participants to exchange ideas and experiences. The last meeting, from the 23rd to the 24th of July 2019, was hosted by Plansee. The purpose of the network meeting was to allow an independent exchange of information with the aim of evaluating and opening up new business opportunities in all areas of flat panel technology and applications and consequently to strengthen the European flat panel display industry.
"As a company that develops and manufactures its products in Tyrol but supplies display manufacturers in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, it is vitally important to exchange ideas and discuss with other suppliers and users of flat panels in order to keep pace with the speed of technical developments," says Dr. Jörg Winkler, Head of Product Development at Plansee's Electronics business unit.
One particular focus of this year's meeting was microLED displays, a new flat panel display technology based on light emitting diodes (LEDs). In this technology, arrays of microscopically small LEDs form the individual pixels. Compared to conventional liquid crystal displays (LCDs), microLED displays offer faster response times, significantly higher contrast, better color rendering and lower power consumption. However, a number of problems still have to be overcome before the technology can be commercialized. As highlighted in the various presentations, the major challenge today is the manufacturing process, including costs and yield. This is because the technology requires the high-precision placement of millions of individual LED chips on the display. Each individual LED chip is only a few micrometers in size, i.e. no larger than a single grain of dust. Other issues that were discussed included possible strategies for reducing or repairing faulty pixels, as well as current problems such as a sharp drop in light output as the surface area of LED chips decreases. Dr. Harald Köstenbauer, head of the Plansee sputtering target coating laboratory, presented several examples to illustrate the extent to which materials from Plansee with high optical absorption or even corrosion resistance can offer solutions to such issues. Beyond this, Plansee developers are currently working hard on solutions for flexible displays, that can be applied to curved surfaces, for example, and on new thin films to improve the contrast ratio of televisions. The production of new flat panels of this kind, as well as the trend towards ultra-high-resolution television in 8K-quality, will be looked at in greater detail by the DFF expert group at its future network meetings.