…and it’s fueled by consumers with a growing appetite to feel like they are “part of the action” on their screens – an immersive experience, whether those experiences are on their smartphones, their tablets, or the TVs in their living rooms.
In short, they want images that are brilliant and lifelike – no matter the application, environment, or device. Today, the electronics industry is moving quickly toward making this total-immersion experience a reality.
That “right-in-the-middle-of-the action” viewing sensation – something that would have been impossible just a few years ago – is born from the continued evolution of high-performing display panels. And that, in turn, is made possible by thin sheets of glass.
Glass, when precisely engineered, has the ability to support both the complex manufacturing processes and the microscopic circuitry necessary to generate those crisp, fast-moving images.
It all starts with a tiny pixel.
As panel makers deposit more pixels, or microscopic “picture elements,” on thin glass substrates, images on the screen become sharper, faster-moving, and more vivid.
Leading electronics makers have pushed from Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) to 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) resolution achieving the lifelike images consumers wanted. Today, that evolution continues with the introduction of 8K (7680 x 4320 pixels) devices that offer the most advanced image resolution we’ve seen yet, immersing the viewer in their desired content.
To achieve these high-resolution requirements, new breakthroughs are emerging in thin-film-transistor (TFT) technologies.
There are a number of different semiconductor materials that panel makers use for transistors, each with its own set of pros and cons. Amorphous silicon TFT (a-Si TFT) technology has long been the workhorse of the industry, and the foundation of many of the devices – small and large – we use every day. Low-temperature poly-silicon TFT (LTPS) is the predominant display technology for high-performance handheld devices, offering the right mix of energy efficiency and display quality.
While these offerings remain excellent choices for a broad range of applications, panel makers are now beginning to evaluate and introduce oxide TFTs to enable advanced displays for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and liquid crystal displays (LCD).
Compared to a-Si, oxide TFTs will enable higher electron mobility for smaller TFTs to create higher resolution, brighter displays as well as faster refresh rates. For LTPS, the higher temperatures and complex manufacturing process required create higher costs than a-Si. Additionally, unlike a-Si, LTPS cannot easily scale to larger sizes to enable better panel economics.
For the emerging large-scale, high resolution display applications, the ideal backplane technology should combine the simplicity, economics, and scalability to larger panel sizes of a-Si with the heightened performance of LTPS. This is exactly what oxide TFT technologies offer.
Similar to LTPS, this new oxide transistor material requires high-temperature manufacturing processes – in some cases at more than 400° Celsius for an extended duration, challenging the ability for glass substrates to meet their exacting requirements. The glass substrate must remain dimensionally and thermally stable while maintaining a pristine surface quality. Even the slightest issue would upset the necessary panel alignment, disrupting the overall functionality of the device.
This is where highly-engineered display glass compositions come into play.
Corning’s family of high-performance glass compositions are precisely engineered to be durable, rigid, and able to withstand tough environments. By being dimensionally stable, the glasses can preserve their shape and size even at high temperatures.
Over the past few years, we have worked closely with our customers to understand and fine-tune a new glass composition for these oxide TFT applications. Thermal and dimensional stability are still key, but panel makers also need to improve yields, enable large-size displays consumers want, and in some cases – achieve 8K resolution.
Today, we’ve leveraged our fusion platform and existing glass portfolio to create a new glass with the optimum blend of attributes: low total pitch variation (TPV), low total thickness variation (TTV), and low sag.
These attributes come together in a glass with the optimized attributes necessary to thrive during oxide TFT fabrication. As such, enabling high-performance tablets, notebooks, and immersive 8K TVs with bright picture quality and fast response times – all while helping improve the display quality and manufacturing process.
We are excited to continue working with other leaders in the display industry to bring this viewing experience to life through the remarkable properties of high-performance display glass.