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New Samsung panel pictures inch-thick TV

South Korean electronics giant plans to show off a prototype 40-inch panel made from a single-sheet organic LED. Photos: Slim TV tech

Samsung has devised a 40-inch panel that could lead to television sets that measure a little more than an inch thick.

The South Korean electronics giant is expected next week to show off a prototype 40-inch panel made from a single-sheet organic light-emitting diode (OLED). OLED panels consume less power than traditional flat panels because, among other reasons, they don't require a backlight. OLED displays also offer higher resolution than liquid crystal displays (LCDs). So far, OLED panels have been incorporated into cell phones and other devices with small screens.

Creating television-size panels is considerably trickier, but Samsung has begun to pop out these larger prototypes. Last year, the company showed off a 14.1-inch OLED panel with a resolution of 1,280 pixels by 768 pixels and followed that up with a 21-inch screen capable of high-definition resolution (1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels).

This latest prototype sports a 1,280-by-800-pixel resolution and a maximum screen brightness of 600 nits (a NIT is a measurement of light in candelas per meter square). The black-and-white contrast ratio is 5,000 to 1. The panel is 2.2 centimeters thick, and it can be fit into televisions that are less than 3 centimeters deep, Samsung said.

These thin screens will be paired, potentially, with technology from a Samsung project on field emission display televisions. In these televisions, thousands of carbon nanotubes, or some other small components, shoot electrons at a screen to create a picture. If successful, FED televisions will be thinner than current flat-panel televisions and provide better resolution.

Samsung has developed prototype FED televisions and said that the OLED panel is designed for emissive televisions. Daeje Chin, South Korea's Minister of Information Technology and a former president of Samsung Electronics, has said that South Korea could begin to export nanotube televisions by next year.

The prototype comes out of a sheet of motherglass measuring 730 millimeters by 920 millimeters and was produced using amorphous silicon processes, similar to the processes used in making LCDs. Earlier OLEDs relied on more ornate and expensive manufacturing techniques.

Samsung is expected to show off the panel at the Society of Information Display 2005 International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition in Boston, starting Tuesday.