July 14, 2008 Sony’s XEL-1 OLED television hasn’t yet had its first birthday and the company is already planning a successor. Digital World Tokyo is reporting Sony affiliate Field Emission Technologies (FET), which Sony currently owns just under 40 percent of after spinning the company off at the end of 2006, is planning to begin mass production of Field Emission Display (FED) panels by the end of 2009.

FEDs are similar to cathode ray tubes (CRT) whereby phosphor dots are excited and give off light when hit by an electron beam, however, unlike cathode ray tubes FEDs are only a few millimeters thick since a large array of fine metal tips or carbon nanotubes are used to emit electrons through a process known as field emission rather than a single electron gun. Sony is pursuing the technology as FED is the flat panel technology that comes closest to matching the picture of traditional CRT TVs. FED TVs are also more energy efficient than existing LCD and plasma flat panel sets and can also be cheaper to produce as they have fewer total components.

FET is aiming to produce 10,000 26-inch FED panels each year at their plant in Kagoshima. Initially these will be for medical and broadcasting use, but 60-inch consumer televisions may soon follow.

VIA Digital World Tokyo.