The annual worldwide revenue of the flat panel display industry is predicted to exceed $23 billion by 2003, up from $13 billion in 1997. In particular, revenue from high-end applications such as portable and desktop computers, and television will account for greater than 75% of the total. The industry is dominated by Far East manufacturers. Japan is especially strong with South Korea and Taiwan making substantial inroads in high value market segments. While member States of the European Union have worldclass scientific activities in relevant fields (indeed many of the inventions which underpin the existing industry have their origins in Europe) our production capacity is only a few percent of the worldwide total. The active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) is currently the market leader for high information content displays. Its shortcomings, which are exacerbated as the display size increases, has encouraged global research on alternatives and improvements. A number of European Union R&TD programmes (particularly in Brite-Euram and ESPRIT) aim at developing materials and production technologies to meet this challenge.
These include research on the well-established plasma, ferroelectric liquid crystal, and inorganic electroluminescence technologies; enhancements to current AMLCDs; and development of emerging technologies with outstanding potential such as field emission and organic electroluminescence. Opportunities also exist for low information content applications and EU programmes on, for example, light emitting diodes and alternative liquid crystal effects address these areas. This Thematic Network will bring together currently dispersed industrial and academic groups working on display technologies within the EU with the broad goal of ensuring that Europe responds adequately to the opportunities and challenges which will be presented by the dynamic and important display marketplace. Europe has to capitalise on the worldclass advances it has made, and will make, in the science and technology which underpin display devices. Ideas developed in university and industrial laboratories should be evaluated against the stringent requirements which a display effect must meet to be considered exploitable.
Those which show promise must proceed rapidly through the prototyping and production stages. Major European R&TD activities, which cover all the technologies discussed above, have been identified and 16 groups from industry and universities have agreed to participate. A broad geographic spread has been achieved and large and small companies are represented.
The network will focus on at least the following: enhancing information exchange among researchers, developers, manufacturers and users of display technologies, encouraging co-ordinated and collaborative R&D between industry and university researchers on key aspects of display technology, stimulating technology transfer from research groups to production e.g. training, short term secondments, prototype assistance, evaluation of topics of generic relevance to flat panel displays e.g. opportunities for materials suppliers; challenges for production equipment manufacturers; lifetime and reliability issues; standards and ergonomics, state of the art and market reviews.
Funding SchemeTHN - Thematic network contracts
CB3 0HJ Cambridge
UB3 1HH Hayes,middlesex
BH15 1HX Poole - Dorset
SO22 4JU Winchester - Hants
S3 7RH Sheffield