Trends in Japan > Sci-tech > The World's Thinnest TV
The Age of Organic Electroluminescence Dawns
(December 5, 2007)

The world's first 11-inch organic electroluminescence TV set, Sony Corp.'s XEL-1, will go on sale in December 2007. At its thinnest point, this model is just three millimeters thick. This model was on display at the CEATEC JAPAN 2007 exhibition held from October 2 to 6. In addition to being extremely thin, the high contrast provided by organic electroluminescence (a rate of over 1,000,000 to 1) is a great advance on current TVs, and visitors flocked to see the 43 units lined up at the event.


This organic electroluminescence display is flexible.

How Organic Electroluminescence TVs Work
Organic electroluminescent material itself emits light, so there is no need for backlighting. In order to make best use of this characteristic, the display includes only the panel and the surrounding case; the image-processing system, the power supply, and the rest of the circuits are all located in the base of the set. The panel is composed of two 0.7-mm glass plates with enough electroluminescent material between them to emit light - just a few hundred nanometers thick. In other words, the panel itself is only 1.4 mm thick. The entire display is just 3 mm thick at its thinnest point.

Supported by an aluminum cantilever arm, the screen appears almost to be floating in space. The display can be tilted 15 degrees forward and 50 degrees backward, and all of the sockets for connecting the TV are located on the base.

The screen resolution is 960 x 540 dots, and the sets come equipped with a three-wave tuner that allows them to receive terrestrial, broadcast satellite, and 110-degree commercial satellite broadcasts. Production has been set at 2,000 units per month, and the TVs will retail for about ¥200,000 ($1,818 at ¥110 to the dollar).

EL Set to Change the Future of TV
The panel used in the XEL-1 was designed by Sony and is called Organic Panel. This refers to "organic" not just in the sense of living material but also in the sense of being environmentally friendly. Sony plans to develop further organic electroluminescence panels under this brand name.

Organic electroluminescence panels are able to provide high contrast by virtue of emitting no light whatsoever when black is called for. Additionally, as the amount of light can be controlled at all gradations, vivid colors and deep shadows can be conveyed, too.

Sony has employed its own technology called "Super Top Emission" in the production of the Organic Panel. Because it can produce a high level of brightness, this panel can accurately convey images of reflected sunlight and flashes from fireworks and cameras. A high level of color reproduction is also possible thanks to the system's microcavity structure, which efficiently extracts light from an organic membrane using multireflection. This allows for the reproduction of beautiful and transparent natural colors.

The response time of an organic electroluminescence screen is measured in microseconds, meaning that the emission of light can be controlled almost instantaneously. A drive circuit was developed to take advantage of this characteristic, and the result is moving images with virtually no distortion.

Soon it will be possible to hang a TV set on the wall like a painting. If the circuits are made even smaller, the way TVs are placed in rooms may change completely. A TV in a stationary position is often the focal point of the living room, but the relationship between the TV and the layout of a room may change dramatically with the advent of organic EL televisions.

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