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Display Technology Breakthrough: Researchers Develop 200 Pixels-Per-Inch Display

Scientists at IBM Research have developed a new flat-panel display technology that delivers clear, crisp images that are double the resolution of today’s typical desktop displays. The prototype Quad-SXGA 200-pixel-per-inch (ppi) display, code named Roentgen, enables users to see text and images with resolution and fidelity that is virtually indistinguishable from a printed page.

With a screen full of more than 5 million full-color pixels -- almost seven times more than the average desktop -- this new active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD), is optimized to produce razor-sharp images.

In addition, each pixel is two times finer than those found on a common cathode-ray tube (CRT) desktop monitor, which are normally between 80 and 100 ppi. As a result, any text character, diagram or image has four times as many pixels as the same item on a CRT monitor, resulting in extremely high-resolution images. For example, a Roentgen image of a complete street map of Manhattan, including every street and avenue name, is readable with the naked eye.

“Ultra-high resolution displays have the potential to greatly increase the usability of vast databases of digital images, including digital libraries, architectural and electronic blueprints, historical archives, and scanned records such as those stored by hospitals or insurance companies,” said Robert Wisnieff, manager of IBM Research’s Advanced Display Technology Lab. “We also expect that the degree of clarity and crispness offered by the Roentgen prototype to be in high demand for graphic design and electronic publishing applications.”

While IBM has announced no product plans for this technology at this time, it is in active discussions with a number of customers around the world.

Technology Specifications

The Roentgen display, named after the German discoverer of the x-ray, results from a combination of advanced designs and advanced low-cost manufacturing processes.

Key specifications of the Roentgen prototype include:

  • 200 ppi, 16.3 inch Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Display diagonal viewing area
  • 2560x2048 pixels (5,242,880 full color pixels)
  • Subpixels are 42 x 126 microns
  • 15,728,640 high-performance amorphous silicon transistors
  • 1.64 miles of thin film wiring (low-resistance aluminum alloys)
  • Aperture ratio of 27.3 percent
  • Backlight power of 44 Watts for a brightness of 230 cd/m2
  • The prototype is 21 inches high and 16.5 inches wide; the total depth (including base) is 9.5 inches; the thickness of the display is 2.5 inches
  • The display weighs less than 20 pounds, which is less than a third of today’s CRT displays
  • The power dissipated is less than half the power used by an 18-inch CRT display
  • The display is Quad-SXGA (4 times the resolution of an SXGA)
In addition, the researchers have devised a scaleable graphics adapter architecture, based on off-the-shelf components, capable of handling these types of high image content displays. This architecture is compatible with all current operating systems.

Scientists at IBM Research began work on AMLCD in the mid-1980's. An early focus of this work was developing techniques to control yield loss in AMLCDs. The results from this work provided IBM scientists with the insight to create highly complex displays. The Roentgen prototype builds on a previous research milestone, a 10.5 inch diagonal 150 ppi SXGA LCD monitor known as “Monet.”