Sharp is starting volume production this month of system LCD products that combine logic with display electronics at a facility in Tenri, Japan, that has seen an investment of 46bn (£240m) since August last year.
The plant can produce 2.5 million 2in equivalent displays a month. But according to Staffan Kordina, LCD product marketing manager at Sharp in Europe, this will only meet the demands of two major customers, so another facility is being built at Mie.
This will cost another 50bn and be capable of producing four million 2in-equivalent LCDs per month when it opens in October next year. Mother glass size at Tenri is 620 to 750mm while at Mie it will be 730 to 920mm.
System LCDs have ICs built into the display panel, and use a continuous grain silicon (CGS) technology that was developed by Sharp in collaboration with the Japanese Semiconductor Energy Laboratories. CGS uses a thin layer of bonded silicon crystals on a glass substrate, and will enable large displays to be made.
The design allows processors and graphics chips to be built directly on to the glass substrate together with the crystals, not possible with amorphous silicon.
In the Sharp substrate, there is a steady transition between the individual polysilicon crystals. Electronics in the CGS layer move around 600 times faster than in amorphous silicon crystals.
The technology will enable ultra-thin mini displays to be built into chip cards. Sharp says this could produce video phones the size of a credit card. Replacement of the glass by plastic could produce a flexible LCD.