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  1. Technology
November 14, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Remember the firing squad cathode ray flat panel display we told you about last year, which is being developed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co (CI No 2,230)? Well it turns out that one of the US flat panel fledglings, Silicon Video Corp, in Cupertino, California is working on a very similar technology – and has won heavyweight financial backers in the shape of Hewlett-Packard Co and Compaq Computer Corp, and Wyse Technology Inc is in there too. All we were told about Silicon Video when Uncle Sam was handing out the cash was that it was designing a 10 high-voltage field emission display (CI No 2,531) but that description sounds a bit misleading now. According to Infoworld, the company’s flat screen uses an array of thousands of emitter sites, each of which is composed of thousands of tiny electron guns, and these fire through an aluminium film to excite red, blue and green phosphors behind the face of the screen. If some of the guns fail, the performance of the screen is not affected, making the thing much less problematic than a thin-film transistor screen, where a few failed transistors is enough to ruin the screen and require it to be rejected. Silicon Video reckons that the simplicity of the concept will make it much cheaper to make than an active matrix screen, as well as imposing no limitation on the size of the screen. A thin-film transistor screen requires multiple layers of expensive materials – colour filters, polarisers and circuit layers, and present fabrication technques make 12 the practical size limit. The other great benefit of the Silicon Video screen is that the phosphors do actually glow, which should mean quality is very much better than with any liquid crystal technology. The one unanswered question is the power consumption, which is likely to be relatively high. Silicon Video says it is in the final stages of fabricating colour and monochrome versions and hopes to be in high volume production in 1997.

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