Flat Screen Monitor Technology
In developing a hybrid electroluminescent flat-panel display screenotherwise known as
the flat colour TV screen or computer monitorthe idea was to offer an alternative to the heavy, thick-bodied
and power-sucking desktop computer monitors of the time.
In the early 1990s, the electroluminescent (EL) display was less widely known technology.
The best explanation of the EL display is found in a 1998 cover story in Discover magazine. "In an EL display,
the inside of a transparent screen is coated with layers of phosphors and dielectrics, materials that dont
conduct electricity but can become polarized in the presence of an electric field. An alternating voltage
applied to this sandwich forces electrons to move, first one way then the other, making the phosphors
Electricity breaks down the dielectrics, forcing manufacturers to apply it in thin
layers using an expensive technique called vacuum vapour deposition. Inventor Dr. Xingwei Wus solution
was to use a different dielectric that would withstand higher voltage and could be applied in thicker
layers, and thus, less expensively. He began building his layers all at once using a slurry of paste,
a technique that did not provide optimal results.
What brought Dr. Wus team to the threshold of a breakthrough was an innovation
of the simplest degreesa technique similar to that used in silk-screening T-shirts, in which the slurry
was forced through a fine metal mesh onto the glass display screen where it would dry to the desired
"Those so-called low-tech processes had been forgotten in high-tech industries,"
he told Discover magazine in 1998.
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