Sony and Candescent to Extend Flat Panel Partnership

Last week, Sony and Candescent Technologies, a developer of flat panel displays (FPD), announced an agreement to extend their existing partnership. In October 1998, the two companies announced their initial agreement regarding the joint development of high voltage Field Emission Display (FED) technology for "next generation" thin, flat-panel displays. The new agreement extends their joint technology development partnership, under which the two companies say they will co-fund these activities, until December 2001.

The agreement, announced today, provides for an equity investment in Candescent by Sony, as well as certain upfront license related fees in connection with a license granted to Sony to develop and manufacture displays based upon Candescent's FED technology. The companies anticipate the expanded development partnership will support Candescent as it begins the process of transitioning its FED technology from development to manufacturing.

The companies explain that the high voltage FED technology can be used to create full color displays in which each pixel on a screen {separately} produces light with a corresponding electrical discharge array (micro-electron gun). Each electrical discharge array employs semiconductor technology to individually activate single pixels by focusing a beam of electrons from each of the cathode emitters onto individual phosphor elements.

Because this technology employs the same light generating principle used in a conventional cathode ray tube, Candescent claims that its brightness level, viewing angle, and response time are all similar. In addition, the company says that, because there is no need for an electron gun mechanism or a deflection plate, FED displays can be made thin and lightweight, like LCD displays. High voltage FED displays employ phosphor materials similar to those used for current CRT screens, which allow the displays to achieve high levels of brightness and reduced power consumption.

Sony's Tadakatsu Hasebe says that "FED display devices could eventually replace the conventional CRT. Candescent is a leading developer of high-voltage FED technology. Together with Candescent, we will continue our efforts to work toward bringing FED technology to commercialization."