Taiwan's CMEL shows millimeter-thick OLED panel

A Taiwanese display maker has developed a 25-inch screen that's less than a millimeter thick.

The new screen, which was unveiled by Chi Mei EL at the FPD International exhibition in Japan on Wednesday, is based on the emerging OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology and attracted a steady stream of show attendees who snapped pictures of the screen or who peered around the edge to take a look at just how thin it is.

The screen's thinness is thanks to one of the advantages of OLED technology. In OLED screens the pixels contain an organic material that emits light when energized. That means a light source like the backlights used on today's LCDs (liquid crystal displays) isn't required and so the screens can be made much thinner. OLEDs also have a lower power consumption, can handle fast-moving images better and offer richer color reproduction than competing LCDs and PDPs (plasma display panels).

Chi Mei EL's previous thinnest prototype was 3 mm thick but the company managed to slim this down by adopting a new production method, said Leonard Fu, a product manager with the company.

The screen has a resolution of 1,366 pixels by 768 pixels (WXGA) and can display 16.7 million colors.

OLED panels are already used in a handful of consumer electronics products like music players or cell phones, but they are yet to become widely used in other areas. The first OLED television was put on sale by Sony in December last year but it's expensive for its size. The 11-inch XEL-1 costs around US$2,500.

Sony and several other companies are pursuing larger OLED screens for televisions and at the FPD show a number were on display.

Sony has also demonstrated a prototype screen that's the same thickness as the Chi Mei EL screen, but the Sony prototype is 11 inches across the diagonal. That makes Chi Mei EL's prototype more than double the size and about five times the area.

Chi Mei EL is a display off-shoot from Taiwan's Chi Mei Optoelectronics. It was formed in 2004 to develop OLED displays and the company already sells a number of small-size panels for use in portable electronics devices.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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