Information & Communication

High Definition Displays

Technical Applications


"High-definition displays" is the term applied to a range of technologies that provide simultaneous presentation of high- resolution images, full color depth, and smooth motion to take full advantage of the capabilities of the human eye. Many promising alternatives are emerging for display technology. Color liquid-crystal displays with diagonal sizes greater than 25 centimeters are currently in production.


Emerging flat panel displays that will be superior in resolution and weight to cathode ray tubes are being researched. Plasma displays which use photoluminescent phosphors that are excited by an ultraviolet gas discharge offer significant possibilities for application in the near term. Researchers are also exploring the possibilities of full color, active matrix liquid crystal display for portable computers. Another promising technology is liquid crystal based on ferroelectric materials. These materials allow displays to have a wider viewing angle.


High-definition displays also promise to have many applications in the commercial world ranging from medical imaging, to computers, to avionics displays in commercial aircraft, to high definition television (HDTV). High- resolution displays are critical to meeting the President's goals for the interface between the Next Generation Vehicle with the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System. Success in manufacturing an efficient and cost-competitive display could create a large number of new jobs in both the display industry and in spill-over sectors including other high- volume electronic manufacturing. Warfare in the future will become increasingly dependent on these technologies. In particular, flat-panel displays will be widely used to update outmoded technologies. For example, much of the sensor and imaging information used on military transports is presented in a fashion that is extremely complex. Flat-panel displays will provide the capability to integrate these complex interfaces into simple, large screens. Flat-panel displays are also far more reliable than the current CRTs, consume less power, and are much lighter and compact. All of these factors translate into a large cost savings to the maintenance of military systems requiring displays. Advanced display systems will be used in fighter planes, helicopters, and by individual soldiers carrying personal digital systems.


In recent years U.S. firms have made substantial advances in manufacturing equipment and process technology, in part, through R&D sponsored by the Advanced Research Projects Agency. For example, U.S. strengths in next generation photolithographic steppers for AMLCDs, excimer laser annealing equipment, advanced chemical vapor deposition machines, and in-line inspection, test, and repair technology are narrowing the AMLCD technology gap with Japan. If firms in the United States pursue large scale AMLCD production either independently or through the National Display Initiative, they will probably achieve technological parity with Japan by the turn of the century. European firms are currently at technological parity with U.S. firms, but have a limited degree of production experience. They also significantly lag U.S. capabilities in next generation production equipment and are therefore likely to continue to lag.