StreetInsider.com: Sharp announced on September 16, 2009 the development of a new method of precisely aligning liquid crystals (LCs) used in LCDs to improve contrast and save energy. UV2A is a photo-alignment technology that will be a world’s first and will be incorporated into Sharp’s next-generation ASV (Advanced Super View) TFT LCD panels that will be manufactured at the company’s TFT LCD fabrication plants located in Sakai (G10) and Kameyama (Plant No. 2, G8). Is UV2A the technology that will help Sharp to sell more TV sets?
Sharp’s UV2A technology is a combination of a special material that responds to UV (ultraviolet) radiation, UV exposure equipment and processing technologies. Changing the direction of the UV radiation changes the alignment of the LC molecules, which are about two nanometers in size. The UV radiation has a control parameter at the picometer level so the LCs can be precisely aligned. With precise LC alignment light leakage, a common problem for LCDs that makes black a mere dark gray, can be greatly reduced improving contrast. Sharp’s new technology also has the potential to improve aperture ratios, in other words more light can come through from the backlight. This in turn has a lot of benefits: the company can use lower-power backlights for the same level of brightness or increase the overall brightness by using the same power backlights. By using a lower-power backlight the LCD TV set can consume much less power.
Here is a list of potential benefits from Sharp’s UV2A technology:
- Improved contrast ratio to 5000:1 (static), which is about 60% higher than conventional models.
- Increased aperture ratio by 20% that improves optical efficiency leading to enhanced energy efficiencies.
- 100% faster response times: Faster response times are required for smooth implementation of certain 3D technologies in LCD TVs.
- Simplified TFT LCD panel structure leads to lower cost of manufacturing, higher yields and faster throughput.
The UV2A photo-alignment technology can be considered a breakthrough in precisely controlling LC alignment that will give Sharp an advantage in improving manufacturing efficiency, improved costs and better performing LCDs. Sharp’s technology leadership in many areas of LCD manufacturing has not ever been in jeopardy but there must be something done with the perception of the brand. Sharp’s market share is just in the mid-single digits in North America; the company will need to spend a considerable sum in marketing dollars to bring the brand up to the levels of Samsung, LG, and Sony.