Sony has announced a new LCD display technology called Hybrid FPA (field-induced photo-reactive alignment), which it claims provides a bevy of improvements for LCDs in the areas of response time, contrast, panel stability, and production speed. For those of you who slept through display science in school (no shame), this boils down to Sony finding a better way to wrangle unruly liquid crystal molecules (LCMs) into more optimal alignments -- which is important since this affects how light passes and therefore how images are resolved. The new technique builds on earlier work, which focused on the vertical alignment of LCMs via an alignment layer. As the left diagram shows, through pre-tilt positioning at the substrate layer, LCMs were forced into a more stable vertical state, which made shifting them quicker and more precise while requiring less voltage. In other words, images resolved faster and more evenly, resulting in "cleaner" whites and blacks with less motion blur. Hybrid FPA simply improves the situation by aligning LCMs even more vertically, which produced response times of less than 3ms in tests. That's great news for 3D lovers and gamers, and should help Sony at least move units off of retailer shelves at some point, particularly if its plans for rapid commercialization of this tech hold true.
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Sony develops "Hybrid FPA", a novel liquid crystal alignment technique that achieves faster response time for liquid crystal displays

Sony Corporation (hereafter 'Sony') has developed "Hybrid FPA (field-induced photo-reactive alignment)", a new liquid crystal alignment technique which enables a significantly faster response time for liquid crystal displays. Fast responses of less than 3ms have been achieved in test cells through this technology. Aside from contributing to 'picture quality enhancement in 3D and high frame rate video', this technology will improve 'product stability' during the display panel manufacturing process as well as after long-term use. Additionally, this technology will achieve production efficiencies by reducing the manufacturing process and time.

Sony previously developed the "FPA *1" high-speed liquid crystal response alignment technique based on vertical alignment (VA) liquid crystal modes. One method for improving liquid crystal response time is to generate pre-tilt of the liquid crystal molecules. "FPA" technique uses the alignment layer developed by Sony and maintains pre-tilt of liquid crystal molecules by irradiating UV while applying voltage in manufacturing process. This facilitates the stable and even alignment of the liquid crystal molecules *2, thus achieving improvements in both liquid crystal response time and the contrast ratio. In addition, this has made it possible to eradicate the Mura (uniformity problem) in the display as well as to eliminate the 'sticking image' that can occur after long-term use.

The new "Hybrid FPA" technology is the result of further development of the aforementioned "FPA" technology with its superior features. "Hybrid FPA" technology has achieved an even faster liquid crystal response time by maintained the pre-tilt on just one side of the substrate alignment layer (see illustration). Furthermore, this new technology has succeeded in facilitating drastic improvements in liquid crystal response time, especially faster movement of liquid crystal molecule when decreasing the voltage which was previously difficult to achieve, as well as higher contrast.

This technology will be presented on December 2 at IDW '10 (International Display Workshops), a display technology conference to be held in Fukuoka City, Japan from December 1 to 3. (http://www.idw.ne.jp/home.html)

Sony is jointly developing alignment layer materials with JSR Corporation (hereafter, 'JSR'), a leading company in electronic materials and display materials, for early commercialization of this technology. Hereafter, Sony plans to further accelerate its development of the technology with JSR's highly functional alignment layer materials and stable material quality.

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Sony 'Hybrid FPA' liquid crystal alignment technique sets LCD issues straight