Applied Materials Has the Touch at FPD Int’l

At the FPD International 2011 show touchpanel applications were everywhere. While the focus was on mobility devices such as smartphones and tablet PC’s; evidence was everywhere that touch is moving to larger applications soon, such as interactive “smart” TV and even a new cool app called “appliance veneer glass” — I’ll describe this in more detail in an upcoming blog post. All of the exhibitors with new mobility device displays touted high resolution and low power consumption as key features.

Samsung demonstrated a prototype 10.1 inch tablet PC with an amazing 2560 x 1600 resolution driven by an IGZO “next generation metal oxide” backplane. The current Apple iPad2 for comparison has 1024 x 768 resolution. I have to say, the crispness of the picture was astounding.

A 4.29 inch smartphone display by AUO touted a 330 PPI (Pixels per inch) while claiming 53% less power consumption than similar smartphone technologies. AUO calls their manufacturing process “Hyper LCD” based on a standard amorphous silicon (a-Si) driven backplane bucking the current trend of Low Temperature poly-silicon based transistor backplanes. The iPhone 4S in comparison has a 3.5-inch display with 326 pixels per inch (PPI) resolution.

The mobility devices race is on, and the result is a growing touchpanel market enabled by Applied Materials.

The growing popularity of the touchpanel technology was evident by the huge amount of interest in the presentation given by Applied Materials’ John Busch titled, “Reinforcing a Touch Panel World,” given at the touchpanel technical session. John’s presentation detailed the Applied Materials value proposition for touch panel technology. Applied offers platforms for both glass and roll-to-roll and flexible substrates; provides added value by driving down material costs with rotary target technology; offers enhanced ITO films and integrated anti-reflecitve film layers – eliminating the need for separate laminates.

Let me briefly explain where touchpanel technology is going (I will keep it in laymen’s terms, so stay with me. It’s totally worth it so you’ll be able to whoa your friends). Projected capacitive touch is becoming the dominant touch technology. For consumers that means long-life, excellent optical properties and multi-touch capability.

To improve productivity and drive down cost, touchpanels are moving from two substrates with film layers on two surfaces to one substrate with film layers on one surface. Again for consumers that translates to cheaper smartphones and tablet PC’s that are lighter, thinner, have a better image quality and are more energy efficient. Speaking of optical properties, visitors to the Applied Materials booth got to see our demo for “Invisible-ITO” which eliminates a striping patterning effect that can be seen on some mobile device screens as well as new anti-reflective coatings we are developing for better image quality in direct sunlight.

Applied Materials’ equipment solutions for touchpanel applications include the AKT Aristo Twin that can deposit all required PVD layers for touchpanel on independently operated vacuum tracks with 50% greater productivity and the Applied Materials Smart Web enabling flex touch applications for ITO and SiO2 in roll-to-roll with high productivity, superior process stability and control (requirements for all those high volume market demands for these fun devices).

Check out our cool new touch video by visiting our web site and while you’re there learn more about our display product line-up.

Stay tuned, as I continue to provide recaps on this year’s FPD International show.

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