Sharp’s next generation LCD panels have been previewed at the CEATEC conference, the IGZO generation. Representing a major shift in technology the new panels are powered by exotic alloys that have allowed Sharp to make smaller and more powerful transparent transistors and invisible circuits.
Sharp’s latest breakthrough in display technology is a semiconductor formula, a recipe called IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide). Sharp have applied the new recipe to the common LCD, building the transparent transistors and invisible circuits out of the new wonder material and improving pixel density, power efficiency and picture quality in the process.
In Sharp’s new panels IGZO replaces the amphorus silicon transistors and circuits, producing clear and bright panels with incredible resolutions. IGZO is a far more conductive material, with much higher electron mobility. This allows the transistors and circuits to be made much smaller while still performing faster. IGZO is also more transparent than silicon, allowing lower light levels to be used to achieve equivalent brightness. All round IGZO technology may give Sharp a considerable advantage over older technologies.
IGZO has been in development since the mid 90’s when Tokyo Institute of Technology professor Hideo Hosono first synthesized the transistor and began experimenting with it in circuits. Sharp are however the first company to commercialize the technology. The IGZO transistors can just as easily be applied to OLED displays along with other types of LCD such as IPS panels, demonstrations have been produced using most panel types but Sharp is introducing IGZO LCD panels first.
A number of IGZO panels have been on display since the beginning of the year. The 32 inch 4k panel supports the new up and coming 4k resolution, 3840 x 2160. A touch screen variant of the 4k panel has also been on demonstration duties, it is said to be extremely fluid and responsive.
A 6.1 inch panel has been on display since the beginning of the year, it will eventually be put into production as a 7 inch panel. It is production ready and will be targeting e-book readers and tablets. Using IGZO technology Sharp has achieved an amazing resolution of 2560 x 1600 or 498 pixels per inch.
The IGZO transistors can also be manufactured with a low power persistence mode that only requires information to be sent to the transistors when a pixel changes colour. Making constant refreshing of the transistors a thing of the past, no longer required for static images and saving up to 30% power. This mode is also designed to reduce the traffic on the displays circuits, giving more time to the touch screen circuits and potentially improving touch screen responsiveness.
Sample production of IGZO displays began earlier this year at the Kameyama plant in central Japan. Full production will begin in Q4 2012, for all panels including the 7 and 10 inch panels for e-book readers and tablets along with the 32 inch professional display panel. Pricing for the new panels has still to be announced, although it is expected to be comparable to current LCD prices.
The march of display technology continues onwards like the beating of a drum, the new era of display technology is fast approaching, the era of ultra high definition displays. 4k is the next resolution that all of our living room gadgets will standardize to, while 8k technology waits patiently in the wings. 4k televisions may be a lot closer than many would expect.