This thread is for news about technological advancements in and commercial production of Thick-Film Dielectric Electroluminescent TVs and TDEL technology in general. It will be regularly updated with relevant news about leading-edge advancements.
Other threads in this group on the AVS Forum:
▪ LCD TVs: Fab News Thread
▪ LCD TVs: Market Price Stats Thread
▪ LCD TVs: Technology Advancements Thread
▪ OLED TVs: Technology Advancements Thread To start off, some background on this as yet obscure up-and-coming technology:
Thick-Film Dielectric Electroluminescent (TDEL) Display
▪ Luminance: > 500 cd / mÂ²
▪ Contrast: 500:1
▪ Color Spectrum: > EBU
▪ Colors : > 16.77 million
▪ Viewing Angle: omni-directional > 170Â°
▪ Response Time: < 2 ms
▪ Temperature Range: -40Â°C ~ +85Â°C
▪ Thickness: < 3 cm iFireâ€™s TDEL display is based on inorganic electroluminescent (IEL) technology and has a novel structure that combines both thick- and thin-film processes. An IEL device generates light by applying an alternating electrical field to inorganic light-emitting phosphors. Traditional IEL displays are bright, very fast in video response time and highly tolerant of environmental extremes. However, the lack of full-color capability and large-size scalability has limited their application for the mainstream consumer television market. iFire has addressed these limitations by replacing the thin-film dielectric of traditional IEL technology with its patented thick-film, high-K dielectric material and structure. The result is a unique flat panel display technology that provides iFireâ€™ displays with high performance and low cost potential.
Based on materials and processes well established in the capacitor, hybrid IC and printed circuit board industries, the thick dielectric architecture of iFireâ€™s TDEL technology has drastically improved brightness, phosphor efficiency and manufacturing yield. Like traditional IEL technology, a TDEL display has a simple, rugged, solid state architecture that is inherently strong and reliable. iFireâ€™s patented thick dielectric approach further reduces manufacturing steps, permits less expensive manufacturing facilities, and lowers susceptibility to cleanroom contamination. Compared to incumbent flat panel display technologies which rely on complicated, highly precise thin-film manufacturing processes that are expensive and defect-sensitive, iFireâ„¢ displays can be produced at a projected 30 to 50 percent cost advantage.
Color By Blue
In 2003, iFire announced the development of a process, known as Color By Blueâ„¢ (CBB), which further simplified the already simple manufacturing process for TDEL. This new process accelerates production of inorganic EL displays while lowering capital and operating costs during the full-scale production. The simpler Color by Blue manufacturing process was made possible by performance improvements to iFireâ€™s blue inorganic phosphor. The Color By Blue process achieves luminance and color superior to the previous triple pattern process, as well as increased contrast, better grayscale rendition and exceptional color uniformity across the panel.
Color By Blue is based on the physics of photoluminescence. An iFire display uses electricity to excite inorganic phosphors, which then emit light. With iFireâ€™s traditional triple pattern method, three electrically active phosphors are used to generate red, green and blue light. With Color By Blue, iFireâ€™s high luminance inorganic blue phosphor is used in combination with special color conversion materials, which absorb the blue light and re-emit red or green light, to generate the other colors. This fluorescence is possible because the photons in blue light operate at higher frequencies than other light, and therefore have higher energy. With optimum color-conversion materials the conversion factors and the color spectrum of the display will exceed the requirements of HDTV systems.
Other Technological Development
In addition to its unique thick-film dielectric electroluminescent (TDEL) technology and associated display material systems, iFire Technology is also involved in many other design elements related to the flat panel display industry.
Energy Efficient Resonant Integrated Supply (ERIS) Display Driver
Next generation large-screen flat panel displays must be both energy efficient and highly integrated. iFire has developed a new power management system, the Efficient Resonant Integrated Supply (ERIS) driver, that is both cost and energy efficient for large-screen displays. Using a resonant sinusoidal drive circuit, ERIS allows efficient energy recovery from the display panel which substantially reduces power consumption and increases luminance. With an estimated 50 percent power reduction compared to a traditional drive circuit approach, ERIS enables 200W power consumption for a mid-30-inch screen.
Self-Aligned Phosphor Patterning Techniques for Inorganic Electroluminescent (IEL) Displays
In 1999, iFire became the first company to have successfully demonstrated full-color IEL prototypes made using a self-aligned phosphor patterning process. The advancement achieved nearly two times the brightness of a color-by-white display, with more saturated colors and a better white point. This basic approach has now been extended to enable the patterning of three phosphors. The resulting displays have the highest brightness, color saturation and white color temperature ever reported for IEL displays. Using a partially self-aligned patterning technique, iFireâ€™s phosphor patterning technique enables high-yield, low-cost production of large-screen panels with CRT color quality and brightness.
TDEL ready to challenge PDP for large-screen TVs
27 November 2001
Among the flat-panel display candidates for large-screen TVs, the plasma display panel (PDP) has a clear head start, with 42-inch-diagonal and larger PDP TVs already available in the commercial market. Within a few years, though, TVs based on iFire's thick-dielectric electroluminescent (TDEL) display technology will start to challenge the PDP, not just with superior image quality but with significantly lower prices as well.
PDP and the TDEL have similarities: both are capacitive devices that emit light through the excitation of phosphors, but the solid-state TDEL has a significant edge over PDP because of its simplicity: in structure, in manufacturing processes and in analog gray-scale generation. The iFire TDEL display, based on thick-film dielectric technology, has a very simple structure consisting of the dielectric layer and a thin-film phosphor layer sandwiched between a pair of X-Y electrodes. The PDP adds the complexity of a gas chamber, which necessitates a high vacuum, and a precise three-dimensional cell using an internal barrier-rib structure to define discrete pixel locations.
Barrier ribs are one source of the tradeoffs inherent in PDP display technology. They are responsible, for example, for PDP's relatively coarse resolution, which appears to be limited to just over 30 pixels/inch, while TDEL has already been demonstrated at 44.5 pixel/inch levels. The potential resolution for TDEL may be as high as 60 pixels/inch, or twice the resolution of a comparable PDP. A TDEL display capable of accommodating both high-definition (720p) video and XGA-level computer data could thus be built in the 30- to 40-inch-diagonal range, while a PDP would require at least a 42- to 50-inch size.
Some PDP makers are working to optimize their barrier rib manufacturing processes â€” sand blasting, screen printing, etc. â€” in order to achieve finer geometries and, thus, higher resolution. But shrinking barrier ribs has two significant drawbacks. First, the smaller pixel cell area reduces the brightness of the display; and second, the smaller the ribs, the more fragile they become. The result of broken ribs is either low manufacturing yield, which raises cost; or the most disturbing of display defects â€” pixels that are always on. The iFire TDEL, on the other hand, employs a layer-by-layer structure, which, unlike PDP, does not require three-dimensional patterning such as barrier ribs or phosphor layers.
iFire Technology announces US$10 million in financing from Dai Nippon Printing to produce large-size flat panel displays
3 February 2004
Toronto, Canada â€“ February 3, 2004 â€“ iFire Technology Inc. today announced it has reached a US$10-million financing agreement with Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) of Japan. The funds will cover one-third of the capital cost to upgrade iFireâ€™s Toronto facility to enable pilot manufacturing of product-quality mid-30-inch sized flat panel displays. The pilot plant is designed to prove the lower-cost manufacturing advantages of iFireâ€™s proprietary thick dielectric electroluminescent (TDEL) display technology. iFire Technology is a division of The Westaim Corporation.
The US$10-million financing is in the form of a loan from DNP to iFire. It is the intention of both parties that the financing relationship will be resolved as part of an expanded commercial agreement as the technology moves through pilot and into commercial production, or through repayment by iFire. iFire retains all rights to its proprietary technology. The pilot line is expected to be completed in the next 14 months and volume production is anticipated to begin in 2006.
â€œThe agreement allows iFire to prove its manufacturing cost advantage over other flat panel display technologies, and supplements the significant contribution that DNP has already made,â€ said Anthony B. Johnston, President of iFire. â€œIt also allows us to proceed with confidence as we move into pilot production and secure other third-party financial and commercialization arrangements.â€
The new financing arrangement expands the original joint development agreement that iFire entered into with DNP in March 2003, to include pilot production.
For pilot production, DNP is making available its primary production line in Kashiwa, Japan for front-end manufacturing of iFireâ€™s TDEL display technology. The front-end processes include substrate preparation and the fabrication of row electrodes and thick-film dielectric layers on 34-inch glass substrates. The partially complete panels are shipped to iFireâ€™s facility in Toronto, Canada, where the back-end processes such as the deposition of phosphors, column electrodes and color correction layers, as well as electronics assembly, are completed by iFire. In addition to demonstrating the lower manufacturing cost advantage, the pilot production project will utilize processes that will be used in large volume manufacturing.
â€œWe look forward to playing a significant role in commercializing this very promising flat panel technology,â€ said Mr. Takashi Toida, Director of Corporate Research & Development of DNP.
With more than 15 years experience in plasma display panel development and production, DNP has experience in supplying and supporting the flat panel industry. DNPâ€™s commercial production technologies are directly transferable to the front-end manufacturing processes of an iFireâ„¢ display and are essential for achieving the low-cost potential of iFireâ„¢ displays.
â€œDNP recognizes that our technology has the potential to be a lower cost alternative to LCD manufacturing in both capital and operations,â€ said Mr. Johnston. â€œOur third party analysis shows that iFireâ€™s technology has the potential to provide a 50 per cent manufacturing cost advantage over LCD in a comparable Generation 6 manufacturing environment. This financial arrangement demonstrates DNPâ€™s confidence and intention to participate in development of iFireâ€™s display technology into a successful flat panel TV product.â€
With superior video performance characteristics and a projected 30 to 40 per cent manufacturing cost advantage over other flat panel display technologies, iFireâ€™s proprietary TDEL technology is poised to become the affordable, high performance alternative for the mass consumer flat panel television market. iFire plans to initially target the mid-30-inch screen size segment of the flat panel television market in partnership with major consumer electronics companies.
The Westaim Corporationâ€™s technology investments include: NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals, which researches, develops and commercializes wound care and pharmaceutical products based on its nanocrystalline silver technology; and iFire Technology, which has developed a revolutionary low-cost flat panel display. Westaim's common shares are listed on Nasdaq under the symbol WEDX and on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbol WED.
Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. is the worldâ€™s largest comprehensive printing company recording yearly US$11 billion in revenue (as of March 2003). Dai Nippon Printing was the first company in Japan to successfully develop shadow masks for color televisions. Applying its fundamental printing techniques and technologies, the company manufactures the marketsâ€™ leading color filters for liquid crystal displays, and screens for rear projection televisions and back plates for plasma display panels.
iFire Technologyâ€™s Pilot Plant Operational
3 January 2006
Toronto, Canada â€“ January 3, 2006 â€“ The Westaim Corporation today announced that its iFire Technology Corp. subsidiaryâ€™s pilot production facility is operational. The pilot facility is intended to produce engineering samples of high-definition 34-inch flat panel display modules based on its proprietary thick dielectric electroluminescent (TDEL) technology and to simulate manufacturing in a commercial environment.
â€œWe have had excellent early output of TDEL panels from the initial runs through the pilot plant,â€ said Barry M. Heck, President & CEO of Westaim. â€œAs we continue to ramp up pilot production we will be sharing TDEL displays produced in the pilot with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and potential partners for their evaluation. iFire intends to begin demonstrating displays early this year.â€
The US$35-million pilot facility was completed on time and on budget. Through pilot production, iFire intends to complete the baseline processes for the manufacture of its displays and focus on continual improvements to both performance and manufacturing efficiency.
â€œAs an emissive display technology, TDEL will offer a viewing experience that is much closer to the CRT and superior to other flat panel TV technologies,â€ said Nick Khoury, President of iFire. â€œIn addition to better picture quality and a thinner, lighter form factor, TDEL offers lower capital investment and has a potential 30 to 40 percent manufacturing cost advantage compared to other technologies, which will translate into more affordable consumer products.â€
iFire expects to commercialize its technology in partnership with industry leaders and plans to initially target the 30- to 45-inch screen size television segment. The pilot plant will provide information and experience to allow iFire to work with partners to construct and operate the first volume production facility. Initial planning work for this facility is under way.
iFire Technology Corp. has developed a flat panel display with low cost and high performance potential called thick dielectric electroluminescent technology (TDEL). With superior video performance characteristics and a substantial manufacturing cost advantage over other flat panel display technologies, iFireâ€™s proprietary TDEL technology has the potential to become an affordable, high performance alternative for the mass consumer flat panel television market. iFire plans to initially target the 30- to 45-inch screen size segment of the flat panel television market in partnership with major consumer electronics companies.
In addition to iFire Technology, The Westaim Corporationâ€™s technology investments include NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NASDAQ: NCSTV; TSX: NCS), which develops, manufactures and commercializes medical products that fight infection and inflammation based on its nanocrystalline silver technology. Westaim's common shares are listed on NASDAQ under the symbol WEDX and on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the trading symbol WED.
The next big (flat) thing
17 March 2006
There's something new happening at iFire Technology Corp. It's about two inches thick.
The Toronto-based maker of flat-screen television technology believes it is on the verge of revolutionizing the industry, giving consumers even thinner models at lower cost. In the process, iFire also believes it can transform from a largely unheard of technology manufacturer to a sector leader.
It's a long way from iFire's Toronto labs to the major leagues of the flat-screen consumer market, however. In the meantime, iFire's strategy may hold important lessons for other small businesses looking to find capital, partners and a consumer base.
The heart of iFire's new flatter screens is called thick-film dielectric electroluminescent technology (TDEL). If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. It's a new method to develop even thinner television sets and at less cost than traditional flat panel technology, and it was pioneered by Xingwei Wu, now iFire's vice-president of science and technology.
Among its benefits, TDEL has a reduced susceptibility to defects during the production process. It also allows for unrestricted viewing angles. And it's much cheaper to produce; iFire estimates TDEL, which can reduce thickness to about two inches, has a potential 30- to 50-per-cent module cost advantage over rival methods such as plasma and LCD panels.
Don Carkner, iFire's vice-president of product planning, says the quality of TDEL screens is better than traditional sets, giving consumers not just a TV they can truly hang on the wall but one that offers a better viewing experience.
Mr. Carkner has been with iFire from the company's creation, when the core technology being developed today was nothing more than a scientific experiment. Outside iFire's clean room, where employees tinker with the settings on the company's multimillion-dollar equipment, he described how engineers struggled for years to produce colours as vivid as those created by traditional TV sets.
But for many consumers the price may be the main hook. At a production cost of as low as $300 a unit, electronics stores may soon be carrying iFire-powered sets in the 37-inch range for less than $1,000. That's less than half the cost of many 37-inch traditional flat-screen models available today.
So far, so good. But a lot can happen between the company's labs and the electronics store showrooms.
That's where iFire's business strategy comes in. The company so far has developed only pilot versions of the 34-inch TDEL-based model. Mass production is targeted for 2007. Between now and then, iFire is working to find the right partners to make sure a promising technology doesn't turn into a commercial flop.
For years, iFire struggled as a business. The company's technology breakthrough came in 1997, but it was far from ready for production. Even though iFire engineers were able to present their new technology, the prototype was only a five-inch display. At larger screen sizes, researchers began to run into trouble. The company also had difficulty reproducing the colour blue with the same intensity as traditional screens, a problem that wouldn't be solved until 2001.
In a way, the company was stuck in a sort of Catch-22. Without partnerships that would allow it to scale up the screens, it was hamstrung. But as an obscure company whose prototypes were still small, iFire wasn't that attractive to those kinds of partners. That would all change when iFire linked with Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. of Japan, giving it the kind of scale and market experience it needs to enter the market in a big way.
Still, iFire also needs money to achieve those goals. While financially it's part of a public company, Westaim Corp., it still needs to produce results to attract investment. One of the major confidence boosts for the company came in April, 2001, when Technology Partnerships Canada announced a $30-million investment in iFire designed to accelerate development.
In its 10-year history, iFire has learned lessons that apply to many small businesses, regardless of ownership structure or industry.
For one thing, iFire is sticking with what it knows. The company has no intention of commercially producing TV sets from start to finish. Instead, it's working to perfect its technology. The rest is to be developed by other companies.
As such, iFire has been on the lookout for partners to accelerate development. In addition to Sanyo, iFire entered into a joint development agreement with Dai Nippon Printing Co., also based in Japan, for commercial production. DNP provided iFire with $10-million (U.S.) in financing and agreed to use its primary production line in Kashiwa, Japan, for the front-end manufacturing.
iFire is also focusing on a specific market when it comes to the final consumer product â€” screens in the mid-30- to mid-40-inch range. That's where the bulk of demand is likely to be at the consumer end, Mr. Carkner says.
But iFire is insulated from the traditional small business environment in a way most small businesses are not. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Calagary-based Westaim, which has interests in, among other things, nanotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The advantages iFire gets from the setup are easy to see, as they include the new $35-million pilot production facility built this year alongside iFire's Toronto headquarters.
Because iFire is owned by Westaim, the company also has to do less work on the investor relations front. In effect, investors looking to put their money into iFire deal with Westaim, and the only investor-related calls the management team at iFire has to take are from Westaim itself.
But iFire's business model is not without setbacks. For one thing, the company is not as well known as its owner. As a result, iFire management teams have to work harder to attract partners and manufacturers.
"Some of them would say, 'Who are you again?'." Mr. Carkner says.
There's also the possibility iFire's revolutionary new technology will be superseded by another revolutionary technology developed by someone else. A host of global electronics companies are working on ways to bring down the cost and improve the quality of flat-screen panels.
iFire may also have to persuade more big-name players to sign on to develop TDEL sets before other companies and retailers begin to believe the technology is capable of shaking up the marketplace.
But if it succeeds, iFire may just change the way people view television.
A superthin, superlight flat screen
9 June 2006
Toronto-based electronics company iFire has created a new phosphor-based form of flat-panel high-definition television that it says is a "true hang on the wall."
Its 37-inch HDTV set is 2 centimeters thick and weighs less than 2.2 pounds.
Credit: iFireiFire's thick-film dialectric electroluminescent technology (TDEL) is a new method to develop thinner, less expensive flat-panel televisions. It uses lightweight materials, thinner glass, and fewer electronics than plasma. And unlike an LCD, it has no backlight.
Their Color by Blue display system uses energy from a blue light source (in this case, a sheet of blue phosphor), which energizes fluorescent pigments that emit green or red light. By combining the blue with the green and red light, the full color of an RGB (red green blue) video is displayed.
"We feel we need to make this quite compelling to compete with the LCD," said Don Carkner, iFire vice president of product planning. He said that with modules costing less than $300 per unit, iFire has one of the most cost-effective modules on the market.
IFire has developed only pilot versions of the TDEL-based model so far, but it plans to form a manufacturing partnership for mass production by 2007.
NEW BREAKTHROUGH CAN CUT COST OF THIS HI-DEF TV SET BY HALF
13 June 2006
Not plasma, not LCD, but new TV technologyâ€” with a price tag under $1,000
OUT of the blue, reseachers have developed a new technology that could put big-screen, high-definition TVs within reach of just about every wallet.
The technology, from Canadian tech firm iFire, would allow manufacturers to create super-sharp TVs less than two-inches thick that could hang on the wall - and cost less than $1,000.
The tiny company already has created 34-inch TVs that weigh in at just a few pounds, and 37-inch screens that would cost consumers half of what the cheapest similarly-sized TV sells for now.
"We can see them on the market by 2007," says iFire vice president Don Carkner.
Carkner says that the technology, called TDEL (thick film dielectric electroluminescent), is neither LCD nor plasma TV - but a new method that can create thinner, cheaper flat panel TVs using lightweight materials and simple electronics.
The new TVs would be much cheaper to build than LCD and plasma TVs that are currently on sale for prices starting at $2,000 - and climbing sharply from there.
The company is currently searching for a manufacturing partner willing to build a factory or two.
But technology experts say iFire is facing an uphill battle against major manufacturers who have already invested billions in developing LCD and plasma displays and probably won't want to nurture a technology that could one day render both obsolete.
"These other technologies [LCD and plasma] are not going to give up easy," says Barry Young, a senior vice president at DisplaySearch, a market research and consulting firm that focuses exclusively on the flat-panel display industry.
Young says that the clock is ticking for iFire.
The price of LCD and plasma manufacturers are dropping every year and they may be able to sell the same-sized TVs for nearly the same price by 2010.
"The question for iFire, is: how soon can they get to market?" says Young.
That could prove to be tough, says Forrester Research vice president Josh Bernoff. "The distance between a new technology and the ability to manufacture it efficiently can be very long."
The major set manufacturers yesterday could not immediately provide officials to comment.
iFire Technology Introduces 34-inch Inorganic EL Panel
15 June 2006
iFire Technology Corp. demonstrated 34-inch inorganic EL panels produced at its pilot fabrication line that came on line in January 2006. The pixel count is 1280x760. Located in Toronto, Canada, the pilot plant was established in October 2004 with expenditures of $35 million, and has been dedicated to retaining mass production technology.
The company plans to continue to fabricate 30~45-inch inorganic EL panels for the time being. With regard to commercial TVs incorporating inorganic EL panels, it intends to draw up a specific plan in 2006, in cooperation with its partners. Panel technology challenges for mass production are to firstly reduce panel defects, secondly improve light emission efficiency, and lastly achieve the resolution of 1080p.