Flat-panel displays (FPDs) will soon become ubiquitous products in our homes, workplaces, and a number of places in between. Familiar display applications pioneered by the venerable cathode-ray tube (CRT) will progressively utilize a number of different FPDs. Flat-panel displays will also initiate and pioneer new applications, as was the case with notebook computers and personal digital assistants.
The future proliferation of FPDs can no longer be doubted for two simple reasons. First, such devices help us cope with this already information-saturated society. Second, the technological momentum and financial commitment needed for FPDs to take hold are already irreversibly set in place. It is the insatiable current and near-future demand that are pulling the field, and that are fueling a flurry of research and development activities. The display market has grown in size from tens of millions of dollars only a decade ago to a nearly ten-billion-dollar industry. This market growth is expected to continue at a brisk pace during the next decade.
This of course is in no way bad news for materials scientists and engineers. We nearly always benefit from development of new and complex products. It is in regard to these rather incipient but advanced manufacturing technologies where we often encounter challenging, relevant, and interesting materials problems. The better we address these obstacles during these early and therefore critical times, the more successful the FPD technology will be in fulfilling the potential opportunities that lie ahead.