As discussed in Chapter 7, the bulk of LCD panel production occurs outside the United States; the leading countries are Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and China.33 In 1998, when Harnessing Light was published, most production had already moved outside the United States. At that time, Japan was dominant, and Korea was just starting to play a big role. The same holds true in the production of touch sensors; Taiwan holds a slightly stronger position than the others. The segment of the touch-display technologies in which the United States leads is the touch controller circuits, in whose production the major firms are Atmel,34 Broadcom,35 and Synaptics.36 In the United States, Corning is producing large sheets of the high-quality glass needed for the display panels (color filter and thin-film transistors) in factories in Kentucky.
The committee believes that the role best played by U.S. companies in the future of displays is in the research and development of new technologies. The committee would like to see a future in which new manufacturing remains in this country.
Key Finding: Although traditional LCD manufacturing has migrated out of the United States, there are opportunities in future display technologies that can give U.S. industry competitive leadership advantages in R&D and manufacturing. They include energy-efficient backlighting, OLED displays and flexible displays, and real-time three-dimensional-holographic displays.
Finding: An overarching issue for U.S. leadership and revolutionary advances in displays involves new materials that are low cost, durable, green, and easy to process. For example, the dominant LCD technology consumes a significant amount of energy; backlighting subsystems consume about 25 to 40 percent of the total display power.
Solid-state lighting (with LEDs) is discussed in Chapter 5. Not only is great progress being made, but it is a field that the United States should emphasize.
33 National Research Council. 2008. Innovation in Global Industries: U.S. Firms Competing in a New World (Collected Studies), J.T. Macher and D.C. Mowery, eds. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.