LG’s rollable 4K Signature 65R9 OLED TV, which is now expected to reach market in 2020, apparently soon might be getting some competition in the rollable TV display space from an unusual challenger — Sharp.

Japan’s Sharp Corp., which is now majority owned and controlled by Taiwan’s Foxconn, last month posted a technology announcement on its web site saying that it has developed, in collaboration with Japanese broadcaster NHK, a 30-inch rollable 4K OLED display panel on an IGZO backplane, according to the OLED-Info web site.

Japan’s Sharp Corp., which will reclaim the rights to the Sharp TV brand for the U.S. from Hisense in January, has been developing and manufacturing IGZO technology for use with LCD panels in mobile devices for a number of years, but the technology is also adaptable to OLED display technology.

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IGZO, which stands for Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide, uses a different type of semiconductor found in the thin film transistor (TFT) backplane. It has the ability to deliver high resolution images at ultra low power levels, while allowing slim product profiles and low noise, Sharp said.

According to Sharp, its new OLED technology adaptation is an organic EL display in which elements that emit light (RGB light emission) in each color of red, green, and blue are formed on a flexible 30-inch diagonal film substrate. IGZO is used as a thin film transistor to drive these organic electro-luminescent (EL) elements.

Sharp said the technology forms elements that “emit light in each color (RGB) with high accuracy by vapor deposition” on a thin film transistor substrate.

This eliminates the need for a color filter and enables high light utilization efficiency. By using a film substrate, Sharp said it is able to produce a rollable display panel measuring just 0.5mm thick. The company said the panel can be rolled up compactly (with a radius of about 2cm) into cabinet housing, like LG’s 65-inch Signature 65R9 rollable 4K OLED display shown at CES 2019.

Despite its 30-inch size, Sharp’s rollable screen was presented as the “world’s largest” direct emission OLED display, in contrast to LG’s Signature 65R9, which is not direct light emitting because it uses color filters to generate RGB colors from the white OLED light.

Sharp said its organic EL (OLED) material is vapor deposited on a thin-film substrate, allowing a panel thickness of just 0.5mm. The display uses NHK’s signal processing and panel driving technologies to “improve the brightness uniformity and video clarity”.

According to the OLED-Info report, Sharp started commercial production of smartphone OLED displays in low volume in August 2018, but halted production due to intense competition from Korean and Chinese companies. The report speculated that Sharp might now be planning to “divert its efforts to medium or large sized OLED panels.”

According to Sharp’s statement: “Going forward, we will continue to develop more advanced technologies and open up the future of displays.”

The new prototype was shown November 13th by NHK/JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association) at the international broadcasting equipment exhibition “Inter BEE 2019” in Makuhari Messe (Mihama-ku, Chiba).

By Greg Tarr

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