The flat-panel-display (FPD) market is experiencing rapid growth due to increased demand for portable computers, communication equipment, and consumer electronic products. In all of these applications, the display is the primary human interface that conveys information. The size of the flat-panel-display market is presently estimated to be $10 billion/year and is projected to grow to over $18 billion/year by 1998. Although most current FPDs utilize either passive- or active-matrix liquid-crystal-display (LCD) technology, electroluminescent (EL) displays and light sources, because of their solid-state construction and self-emissive characteristics, can provide improved performance for many demanding display applications. Thin-film electroluminescent (TFEL) technology has been demonstrated over a broad range of display sizes from 1-in. to 18-in. diagonal with resolutions from 50 to 1,000 lines per inch. Also, because of its unique solid-state characteristic, TFEL technology is well-suited to provide a fully integrated display with the light-emitting element and electronics fabricated on the same substrate. An example of a full-color TFEL display is shown in Figure 1.
Thin-film electroluminescent display panels are finding increasing applications in the FPD marketplace due to several fundamental performance advantages over LCDs. These include wide viewing angle, high contrast, wide operating-temperature range, ruggedness, and long lifetime. Alternating-current (ac)-driven monochrome TFEL displays (ACTFEL displays) have become the most reliable, longest running devices on the market. Commercial ACTFEL display panels have operated for more than 50,000 hours with less than 10% luminance change, the equivalent of 25 working years.