Samsung scientists have figured out how to make LCD panels from ordinary glass plates, the company announced yesterday. If the process is put into production, it could dramatically reduce the costs of LCD screens for laptops and TVs.
Ironically, Samsung subsidiary Samsung Corning Precision Glass produces the kind of high-quality non-alkaline glass used in today's LCDs. It makes glass that's highly resistant to the chemicals and high temperatures used in LCD production.
In practice, that means coping with chemicals and 300°C heat without changing colour or distorting - both of which the kind of cheap, plain glass used in windows and bottles does. However, the non-alkaline glass is much more expensive - around ¥6122 ($53/£26/€37) per square metre, according to market watcher DisplaySearch.
Samsung's cheaper alternative is soda-lime glass, probably the most widely used form of glass there is. What its boffins have done is work out how to make LCDs using lower temperatures. That, in turn, eliminates the risk of colour change, so allowing lower quality glass to be used.
Samsung's test unit is a 19in, 1280 x 1024 panel, which it claimed yields the same image quality as an LCD made in the customary way.
DisplaySearch estimates that the new process would knock around six per cent off the price of a 32in LCD panel. That may not sound much, but in the hugely competitive world of LCD production it's a big deal.
Samsung's process is only in its early stages, and it could be four of five years before the company is ready to use it for the mass production of LCD TVs and monitor screens.
By then, the company also expects to have 40-42in OLED displays on the market, offering better image quality and lower power consumption.