Ushering in the next generation of flat-panel displays and medical imagers

Prof. Kanicki expects breakthroughs in both the flat-panel display and imager industries using his-ITZO TFT technology in the near future.

Research that is expected to directly impact the future of the flat-panel display and imager industries has been selected as an Editor’s Choice by the Journal of Solid-State Electronics.

In addition, the paper was selected to be highlighted by Advances in Engineering due to its exceptional scientific importance.

The article, DC sputtered amorphous In–Sn–Zn–O thin-film transistors: Electrical properties and stability, co-authored by Prof. Jerzy Kanicki, ECE graduate student Chumin Zhao, and Dr. Mitsuru Nakata (NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratory, Japan), describes a new technology that may help usher in the next generation of flat-panel displays and imagers.

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Next Generation High Resolution Flat Panel Devices

Today’s flat-panel displays (FPDs) and flat-panel imagers (FPIs) based on thin-film electronic devices are widely used in our daily lives, such as in flat-panel televisions and a wide variety of medical imagers.

However, the bulk of these FPDs and FPIs are based on technology that is more than 30 years old. This technology is not adequate for next generation super high definition displays (e.g. 8k × 4k, fast frame rate (> 240 Hz)).

While several approaches have been tried to improve the technology, there are limitations that prevent them from being manufactured using a large area fabrication process with our existing manufacturing infrastructure.

With the field wide open for just such an improvement, Prof. Jerzy Kanicki and his team developed a new technology, using amorphous In–Sn–Zn–O thin-film transistors  (a-ITZO TFTs). This technology combines the advantages of current amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) TFT technology, which allows for large area mass production but is not suitable for next-generation devices, as well as low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) TFT technology, which works well for organic-light emitting devices (OLEDs) used for small area FPDs, but is not suitable for mass production.

“The a-ITZO TFTs are very promising for large area, fast frame rate active-matrix liquid crystal displays (AM-LCDs) and AM-OLEDs,” said Prof. Kanicki. “In addition, this technology can be applied to next generation medical high-resolution imaging applications such as digital tomosynthesis and computed tomography.”

“We expect breakthroughs in both the flat-panel display and imager industries using this new a-ITZO TFT technology in the near future,” said Kanicki.

Specifically, this could be as early as 2-5 years for the flat panel displays, followed a few years later for flat panel x-ray imagers.

Details about the limitations of existing technology, as well as the promise of a-ITZO TFT technology, are found in the paper DC sputtered amorphous In–Sn–Zn–O thin-film transistors: Electrical properties and stability.

About the Authors

Jerzy Kanicki Enlarge

Prof. Jerzy Kanicki’s current research is in metal oxide semiconductor based devices for displays and detectors. In the past he’s worked on organic and molecular electronics and various flat panel displays technologies. He joined the University of Michigan in 1994 from the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where he worked on hydrogenated amorphous silicon devices for photovoltaic and flat panel display applications.




Dr. Mitsuru Nakata Enlarge

Dr. Mitsuru Nakata is a researcher in the area of oxide semiconductor TFTs and flexible displays at the Science & Technology Research Laboratories, Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Nakata was a Visiting Scholar at Michigan in 2013-14.






Chumin Zhao Enlarge

Chumin Zhao’s research interests include semiconductor device physics and modeling, amorphous oxide TFT-based pixel circuits for advanced flat-panel displays and imagers, and detector system modeling for medical imaging. He received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan in 2014, and is currently working on his doctorate.

November 22, 2016