Date Visited: October 7, 1991
Report Author: W.E. Glenn
Sharp has a worldwide business of over $10 billion, of which the Liquid Crystal Display Group represents about $1 billion in sales per year. This is about one third of the worldwide market for LCDs. Sharp spends about 8% of sales revenues on R&D and has a total R&D staff of 7300 people. An article in Business Week, April 29, 1991, gives more details of their history.
The 14-inch display is the largest Sharp produces. All active matrix panels in production use amorphous silicon on Corning 7059 substrate.
Their total LC production had about 25% AMLCD in 1991, but the percentage is growing rapidly.
Sharp will soon complete a new, very large, seven-story building that will be devoted entirely to TFT production. They feel that Toshiba is their closest competition. As for major production problems for amorphous silicon, they felt that throughput and yield were the major problems. Electrostatic damage was also a major yield problem.
In its research activities, Sharp is studying polysilicon. They find it attractive as a way to incorporate the drivers on the panel. Work is being done on low-temperature polysilicon (<600 degrees) so that glass could be used as a substrate. This should reduce the cost and improve reliability and panel shrinkage. Laser recrystalization is one of the techniques being studied to give a low-temperature process.
Research is being done on color filters. At present Sharp buys some of its color filters, drivers, backlights, and arc lights from other companies. They are working on PDLC, FELC, and ECB because of their possible wider viewing angle. They think FELC will be a good candidate for high-resolution computer displays where gray scale and speed are not required.
The Sharp high-definition LCD projectors at the Japan Electronics Show demonstrated excellent image quality. However, the television people responsible for its development were not at our meeting. The people in attendance could not answer most of our questions on it.
For the future, Sharp feels that a-Si panels can be made in XGA format up to about 20". They feel that 40 cm x 40 cm is about the largest substrate that can be manufactured at a reasonable cost. They don't believe STN is a direct competitor, since AMLCD gives a better image. As for production plans--they hope to have 14" XGA panels in production by 1995.
In the future Sharp expects EL panels to compare favorably with AMLCD because they have a wider viewing angle and are easier on the eyes. Sharp expects LCD panels to exceed production of CRT displays below 14" in about 1995. From 16" to 39", they feel that CRT will still dominate for the next decade or more. Above 39", they expect the AMLCD projector to dominate.
The U.S. office of Sharp is:
Sharp Electronics Corporation
5700 Northwest, Pacific Rim Blvd - Suite 20
Camas, WA 98607, U.S.A.
Phone: (206) 834-2500
FAX: (206) 834-8903