Display Technology Should Borrow a Page from the Semiconductor Industry

By Stephen Sechrist

In his Display Week Business Track talk focusing on the tools that make displays, Dr. Brian Shih, Corporate VP and GM at Applied Materials, borrowed a famous line from the semiconductor industry -- “You cannot fix what you cannot see” -- to show just how semi technology kept pace with Moore’s Law, and what specific processes and tools display makers can leverage to improve imaging going forward.

Just for the record, Dr. Mary Lou Jepson began preaching this link of semiconductor and display manufacturing almost a decade ago, first with the One Laptop for Children (OLPC) initiative and later with a company she founded on this premise, Pixel Qi (but I digress.)  

Dr. Shih asserts that, as with semiconductors, in order to move to the next level in display technology, we need to develop the display manufacturing tools to keep up with the increasing complexity of technology integration (think on-cell and in-cell touch vs. a touch layer added after the display is manufactured.)

He presented a timeline (see below) that showed the introduction of 1 micron technology in semiconductor manufacturing in the mid-1980s and emphasized that we are at this inflection point of 1 micron technology in display manufacturing today. On the semiconductor side “…more than 90% of semiconductors today are SEMed,” Dr. Shih said,

Shih covered the benefit of in-line Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM for short) in display manufacturing to help reduce costs and boost yields. SEM focus includes defect inspection, review, and classification that are non-destructive, and offer high throughput and high sampling rates when compared to conventional lab SEM methods.

As displays continue to evolve, we expect demand for the tools to keep pace. Fortunately, we have a precursor technology in the semiconductor industry to help point the way on our path to display nirvana. 


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