CNT Electron Emission for Display Applications

Carbon nanotubes are excellent sources of electron beams that can be used for many applications, including displays, material analysis and various sensor technologies. Historically, the focus of electron emission from carbon nanotubes has been on large area display applications (CNT Field Emission Displays, CNT-FEDs).


Our focus has been on Field Emission Displays (FED) based on carbon-related materials. While televisions and desktop computer monitors have traditionally used cathode-ray tubes to aim electron beams from electrically heated wires onto phosphor-coated screens, FEDs replace the CRT's single source of electrons with a large array of fine electron emitting tips. Ideally suited for large flat screens like televisions, they maintain high resolution but in a much thinner enclosure.

Carbon nanotubes are excellent field emitters because of their small tip size, high aspect ratio, high chemical and mechanical stability, as well as their ability to produce very high current density at low operating voltages. With a consortium of Japanese components manufacturers, we demonstrated a 25-inch color proof-of-concept CNT-based TV in September 2005.


SED TV developed by Canon/Toshiba Joint Venture

SED TV is a form of field emission display based on surface electron conduction technology. ANI has extensive intellectual property in the area and in 1999 we signed a non-exclusive license agreement with Canon, Inc. for a $5.6 million up-front payment. This agreement excluded the use of electron emission from carbon nanotubes.

Technical comparison between SED and FED

Backlights and Lamps

Applied Nanotech, Inc. has developed a carbon nanotube (CNT) electron emission lamp suitable for use as a backlight for large area LCD TVs, industrial or medical lighting applications.

ANI proof of concept CNT Lamp

As screen size increases, the cost of LCD screens increase disproportionately, putting them at a competitive disadvantage to other technologies. The LCD industry is under pressure to reduce costs; nanotechnology provides the opportunity to both reduce costs, improve performance and eliminate the use of mercury.

Our lamp construction is suitable for mass production utilizing our proprietary CNT inks and printing techniques. The lamp is comprised of two components: a front glass covered with the phosphor coating and a back glass functioning as a cathode that includes our proprietary metallic and CNT inks. All processes involve printing only and can be produced at low cost to accommodate the needs of the large consumer markets.


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