Rumored to be the next step in flat panel displays, FED-TVs may become an affordable reality, thanks to research on carbon nanotubes.

Though the technology has been around for many years, Field Emission Display (FED) televisions are not something the common consumer would probably know about. While FED-TVs promise to be the next generation of HDTV displays, brighter and more efficient than plasma, more reliable than LCD, and much less bulky than CRT, the high cost of production has kept the technology from reaching the consumer. Enter our friend, the carbon nanotube.

Research by a group of universities, including University of Latvia, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University of London, and Mid Sweden University, has demonstrated the conductive and field emission properties of single and multi walled carbon nanotubes. The researchers used a transmission electron microscope-scanning tunneling microscope to collect the data from nanotubes that were grown by chemical vapor and supercritical fluid deposition techniques. They found that the properties of the nanotubes were dependent on the structure of the tube.

The research is important for TV manufacturers because it will allow them to craft nanotubes with the best possible characteristics for use in FED-TVs.

FED-TVs work most similarly to a blend of plasma and CRT display technology. FED panels use a cathode tube and phosphorous type system like CRTs, while maintaining the matrix type arrangement of plasma's gas and phosphorous single pixel system.

Rather than a controlled beam stimulating a phosphorous coating to excite it to emit light, CNT FED displays use the nanotubes as electron emitters, stimulating the phosphor directly. This is more similar in panel mechanics to how plasma displays use charged gas to emit ultra-violet light which in turn stimulates the phosphors in each of its pixels.

Since each pixel in a FED display is backed by many nanotubes, even if 20 percent of the tubes behind a pixel fail for some reason, it will not suffer from the infamous dead pixel that LCDs are notorious for. FED-TVs should also pack a response time better than plasmas, which is already more than fast enough, so fast-motion image blurring should not be an issue. Add to this the flat panel display form factor, and it's hard to argue that FED-TVs could be the next great thing for consumers who want the best possible image.

As production methods for these displays becomes easier, due to research like what is being done at these universities, cost will come down. Consumers may eventually see Sony debuting a, what is hopefully more than an 11 inch, FED-TV that will impress like the XEL-1 OLED TV.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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