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Next-Generation Display Technologies

New materials will mean brighter, sharper screens

4 min read
Photo of Corning's Willow Glass
Photo: Corning

The message from Display Week, June’s annual gathering of the Society for Information Display, is that while the current big trend in the industry—smart televisions—is driven by processors and software [see “Smart TV,” IEEE Spectrum, July 2012], the momentum for the next wave of display products is coming from advances in materials. These advances will mean bigger screens and higher resolutions at lower cost and could even open the door to radically new devices, such as an information display that wraps around a cylindrical pillar.

The materials in question are used in a critical component of flat-panel displays: the backplane responsible for turning pixels on and off. If you tear down a typical LCD, you’ll find that the actual pixel switching is done by thin-film transistors. Generally, these TFTs are formed on a thin layer of silicon deposited on a glass substrate, and these layers make up the backplane. The simplest and cheapest way to deposit the silicon layer produces amorphous silicon. However, the electrical properties of amorphous silicon translate to relatively large transistors and thus relatively large pixels—adequate for the LCD panels of yesteryear, but at the resolution of Apple’s Retina screens, for example, smaller transistors are needed.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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