Skip to comments.New Motorola process could bring down cost of big TVs
Posted on 07/07/2003 5:51:07 PM PDT by PeaceBeWithYou
From atomic-scale "carbon nanotubes," Motorola Inc. has sprouted a new technology that will make it possible for the first time for manufacturers to easily grow and inexpensively produce the material to make large-scale TV and computer display tubes, the Schaumburg technology company announced Tuesday.
In addition to its use in producing 60-inch and larger displays at a retail price potentially below $1,000--a fraction of the current cost for plasma displays--the new Motorola process will have a variety of other applications, researchers said. It could be used in devices to detect and eradicate infectious microbes, such as that causing the SARS epidemic in Asia, and also in fuel and solar cells, ultra-small transistors and memory chips.
Motorola said the new displays also would be effective on larger surfaces for billboard advertising and sporting events.
The new process is based on 160 patents and patent applications filed over the past decade.
"This could potentially be a big deal," said Sean Murdock, executive director of AtomWorks, a Chicago-based public-private partnership aimed at promoting nanotechnology in the Midwest. "Some view this capability as one of the Holy Grails of nano-electronics."
Carbon nanotubes are atomic-scale sheets of elemental carbon formed into cylinders. Ten thousand tubes equal the diameter of a single human hair.
Jim Jaskie, chief scientist at Motorola's Physical Electronics Research Lab in Tempe, Ariz., said the tubes in the first generation were produced by burning material at 1,000 degrees Celsius and sifting through the debris to find tubes with the right properties. He said those temperatures destroy glass, silicon and other materials to which nanotubes would be applied to make a display.
The material produced that way is like a peanut butter that is smeared or printed on glass. But the original process was expensive because it involved so many production steps and the end product was not uniform.
The breakthrough was the development of a new, less complicated process, similar to that used to produce liquid crystal displays, that grows the tubes in a uniform fashion at relatively low, nondestructive temperatures below 500 degrees, Jaskie said. With the process, known as chemical vapor deposition, the tubes are laid down properly oriented on materials such as glass.
Ken Dean, principal staff scientist on the project, who was trained as a materials engineer at Northwestern University, compared the process to a "cloud forming snow crystals [in which] the water vapor makes beautiful snow flakes." In this case, the vapor lays out standard-sized carbon nanotubes.
The Motorola process precisely places the carbon nanotubes on a surface material, while controlling their length and diameter. "This innovation gives manufacturers the ability to design products on a molecular level," said Jaskie.
He said the process will help display manufacturers better control brightness, color purity and resolution on flat panels.
Dawn McCraw, director of marketing for Motorola's advanced technology business, said the first application of the new technology will likely be as "nano-emissive displays" to enable manufacturers to build large flat panel displays with images comparable to today's flat panels using LCD or plasma technologies--but at a lower cost. She said licensing discussions are under way with manufacturers in Asia and Europe.
"It won't represent a large change in manufacturing," she said. The company expects it will take two years for display makers to adopt the new process in their existing production lines and to begin marketing the displays.
Bob O'Donnell, director of personal technology at IDC, the tech market research company, said, "We believe the market is ripe for a disruptive technology, such as carbon nanotubes, that provides a [cathode ray tube] quality image at a cost that is significantly lower than current plasma and LCD offerings."
Motorola has been involved in the display business since it introduced TV sets in the 1940s. It left the TV business in 1974, but has continued to work on display technology to develop its patent portfolio. A major Motorola strategy now is to license its patents to other manufacturers.
By the end of the year, Samsung plans to market carbon nanotube displays, perhaps 14 to 20 inches in diameter, said Murdock. "Motorola's process would be a huge leap for the display industry," he said.
Jaskie said the technique has applications far beyond display tubes, though it will take longer to develop these.
One possibility is the ultimate in bug zappers. Jaskie said the lab has linked on the molecular level electronic sensors using nanotubes with DNA for bacteria to detect bacteria. Once detected, the circuitry is switched to zap the bugs.
Jaskie envisions the systems being used in air cleaners, such as those used on on airplanes, to eradicate SARS and other viruses and bacteria. He said the new systems could be used to detect and eliminate air and water pollutants.
McCraw said, "These devices could be built into lamp posts. We have demonstrated a lot in the lab what can be done. It's not a physics problem."
Murdock said the new process could be a boon to the development of cost-effective solar power and of distributed fuel-cell energy systems.
Jaskie said the challenge with the new tools now is "to look for ways to apply them."
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"A major Motorola strategy now is to license its patents to other manufacturers. By the end of the year, Samsung plans to market carbon nanotube displays, perhaps 14 to 20 inches in diameter, said Murdock. "The displays will be made in Asia
Motorola isn't planning to build anything in the US. They are going to license the technology to overseas manufacturers. From the story:
"She said licensing discussions are under way with manufacturers in Asia and Europe."
" It left the TV business in 1974, but has continued to work on display technology to develop its patent portfolio. A major Motorola strategy now is to license its patents to other manufacturers."
Video projectors are another way (that can still be improved on) to get a large/flat picture.
They import a lot of the scientists too. Helps keep the down the developement costs.
Well, not quite. The cut off of scrap metal exports, and more importantly oil exports, to Japan was one of the factors which convinced the militarists to "go for broke", against the advice of their own admirals.
This is the future and at this type of price Motorola will build plenty of products in the USA.
I would like one of those 60" HDTV displays, but I am not willing to pay the price they are asking today for them!