It may not appear among Sharp's press releases, but arguably its most compelling stand at IFA this year was dedicated to the new IGZO display technology. Sharp is making bold claims for IGZO: first, that it affords significant energy savings over conventional LCD displays; second, that that the technology could be inside Apple mobile devices in the near future.
The thing that makes IGZO IGZO is its thin-film transistors. In an ordinary LCD display, these are made from amorphous silicon. In IGZO, the transistors are made from an alloy of indium, gallium and zinc oxide.
"This new technology allows us to make the panel more transparent, so less energy is required for the light to come through the transistors to our eyes," Alexander Sivolap, Project Manager of Sharp Electronics Russia, told Gizmag.
Sivolap indicated to us that energy savings of 25 to 40 percent compared to conventional LCD displays is typical, due to the less powerful backlights required. IGZO's integrated circuits also require less energy, Sharp claims.
"We are going to use this technology to make LCD panels for Apple iPads and maybe iPhones as well," Sivolap told Gizmag, indicating that other display manufacturers are now rushing to catch up. "IGZO is the buzzword in display technology," he concluded.
The technology is certainly up to the job, judging by the 498-ppi IGZO screen on show. The Retina display of the iPhone 4 is only (only, already) 326 ppi, and that's the highest-resolution display of any current Apple device. The higher resolution is made possible by the virtue of the IGZO's transistors being physically smaller.
Though IGZO will first appear in small and medium-sized screens (think phones and tablets), Sharp indicated that televisions and larger displays were in the pipeline.