Chances are you're reading this from a flat panel display, a technology that has changed the electronics industry, making it possible for devices to become truly mobile. Today, you’ll find flat panel screens in every car, home and even in your pocket! All of them are produced under vacuum conditions used to produce the thin film coatings that add the final layer to each display, regardless of technology.
The history of flat panel displays began in the mid-1980s with the first LCD (liquid crystal display) panels on laptops. Shortly thereafter, LCD computer monitors became available and replaced “CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions”, bulky and heavy computer monitors that you probably recognize from pictures and movies from the previous millennium. Since 2003, LCD displays have exceeded the sale of CRTs, and we've never looked back.
The technology started out small - literally! The first LCD displays in 1990 had a glass size known as Generation GEN1 (200-300 x 200-400 mm). Since then, dimensions grew consistently larger until they reached GEN11 (2340 x 3370 mm) in 2018. With the increase in production, the size of LCD TVs increased each year. As their sizes expanded, so did the technical demands on production machinery suppliers for glass handling, transporting and coating.
From around 2010, backlight technology in LCD TVs changed from a cold cathode fluorescent lamp to a dynamic LED backlight, bringing LCD technology to the forefront.
Approximately five years later, a new technology known as OLED (organic light emitting diode) was ready for mass production and established itself as an alternative to LCD. The advantages of OLED included a lower cost, its light weight, flexibility, better energy efficiency and better picture quality (especially for the color black).
Even the very first LCD screen was produced under vacuum conditions, and Leybold products have been used to manufacture them. Coating machine manufacturers count on us to provide full, tailor-made vacuum solutions developed for their process requirements. This often requires product adaptations simply because every manufacturer’s process is unique.
Some of the products we supply and the challenges they tackle include: