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What Is a Nano-Emissive Display?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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A nano-emissive display, also known as an NED, is a new type of nanotube technology that may one day revolutionize the way video and other electronic displays work. The first nano-emissive display was developed by Motorola and unveiled in 2005. Once it reaches the mass market, a nano-emissive display is expected to provide superior quality in a number of different ways to display technologies currently available.

The NED is said to have a better quality, durability and economics than most traditional forms of display technology. Combining these three factors into one product is considered the triple crown of display technology and may offer the company that is able to mass produce a product a significant market advantage over other technologies. Its quality features include more accurate colors and a high quality brightness that allows for easy viewing, all while doing so with less energy consumption than plasma, LCDs, or traditional displays.

Some say that these televisions could last longer than 12 years under normal use, which is a fairly good lifespan for televisions with newer displays. Many do not keep televisions that long. Therefore, for most users a new television featuring a nano-emissive display, when available, will last as long as they would likely want it to.

A nano-emissive display takes the carbon nanotubes and grows them directly on the glass of the display system. According to Motorola, this enables the displays to be very energy efficient in the way they emit electrons, which causes the visible display by lighting up colored phosphers. Motorola's use of carbon nanotubes showed a practical video use of the technology at a time when many openly wondered if it had such a use.

Though early predictions after Motorola's unveiling of the technology in 2005 had the technology being massed produce for television use within a few years, that did not prove to be the case. However, the practical, or at least the economical benefits, have been harder to realize. As the technology improves, there are likely to be more options for products using an NED.

However, since 2005 even more advancements have been made using other technologies such as organic light emitting diodes. These newer technologies may grab the attention of electronics companies and developers as this market is very competitive. Depending on the development of these other technologies, the nano-emissive display may be outdated, at least in some applications, before it even gets on the market.

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Discussion Comments
By submariner — On Oct 02, 2011

@Georgesplane- I do know that there are super high voltage transmission lines that use nano carbon technology. I am not sure if the technology is the same as that used in the Nano emissive displays mentioned in the articles, but it has to be similar. I think that the nanotube design is the strongest carbon chain that can be made, and transmission lines must be strong.

From what I understand, the carbon nano transmission lines are thinner diameter than a comparable conventional high voltage line. The lines also offer a lower resistance than conventional high voltage lines, and they allow for the transmission of direct current making them far more efficient than alternating current transmission lines. The direct current can be converted back to alternating current through step-down solid-state transformers.

If you want to learn more about this, read up on the intelligent grid, and look into power transmission storage technologies. The information you find may surprise you.

By highlighter — On Oct 01, 2011

@GenevaMech- A few years back I saw a space elevator competition where multiple teams were competing to design an elevator that could potentially move cargo to space. It would work through the tether effect, and would need to run efficiently enough to ferry people or cargo out to a space station tethered to the other end. During the backstory of the show, a scientist demonstrated the process of creating nano ribbons that were made of nanotubes.

The idea is that they are string enough, light enough, and electrically conductive enough to make the idea a reality. The only problem is that the production would take decades at current manufacturing capacity.

By GenevaMech — On Oct 01, 2011

@georgesplane- It seems like nanotechnology made its introduction to the world when Motorola introduced those NED screens. I think shortly after that they started rolling out their new razor phones with the ultra thin cases and bright color screens. It is funny how companies shine and fade in the technology industry.

Anyway, I think that the use of carbon nanotubes is a big area of research in the energy industry. If I am not mistaken, there are a few companies that have developed nano solar panels and are trying to bring them to market. Your assumptions about carbon nano tubes is right, and they will one day play a big role in the energy, technology, and medical industries, but problems with production processes must be resolved first.

By Georgesplane — On Sep 30, 2011

@GiraffeEars- I remember when the NED display was released, and it was touted as the next big thing in the tech world. I think it turned out being something that was passed over by other technology that was developed. Things like organic LED and active matrix organic LED displays have become the industry standard. I would like to see what these new quad HD screens are all about because I think they sound interesting.

What I want to know is if carbon Nano tubes, the tubes mentioned in the article, are electrically conductive. From what I understand, carbon nanotubes are flexible like threads, yet also one of the strongest materials on earth. I wonder if this nanotechnology could find uses in the energy industry. Maybe they could be incorporated into solar panel displays to increase efficiency, thus increasing power density. The biggest problem with solar panels is that they are so inefficient. This could be a good solution to some of these problems.

Maybe utilities could find a use for carbon nanotubes in creating more efficient transmission lines. I would imagine these tubes could conduct more electricity than traditional high voltage lines per unit of diameter. Does anyone know of any similar applications where Nano-emissive display technology spurred advancements in other areas of nanotech?

By Fiorite — On Sep 29, 2011

@GiraffeEars- The NEDs described in this article are likely a thing of the past. Some of the best screens to come out this year are some of the Active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) screens that are super thin, flexible, and very efficient. These enable our digital devices to become ever thinner, lighter, and larger with every new model. These screens can be as thin as two millimeters, can roll into a tube the diameter of a pencil, and can display resolutions near 720P.

For larger screens, the new quad full high definition (QFHD) AMOLED screens that will be unveiled this year is probably as good as it gets. The screen is very thin and is transparent, enabling the user to interface it with different products like car windshields, glasses, etc. The screen can reproduce ridiculous resolutions equivalent to four times the resolution of full 1080P.

The effect is an image that is very clear, two sided, and very sharp. The screen could be used to integrate a heads up display into the windshield of an automobile. Screens could be integrated into shower doors, bathroom mirrors, and windows (as a sort of digital privacy shade). I would not be surprised if people end up with bio-integrated displays that run off body heat within thirty years.

By GiraffeEars — On Sep 29, 2011

Nanotech news is always so interesting. It is amazing that you can actually grow carbon on a piece of glass and create a sharp picture. I wonder how these nano-emissive displays compare to some of the current displays like plasma and LED LCD displays.

I have a nice LED screen on my wall and it makes games look great. I can only imagine how good a game would look on a nano display. Does anyone know if these nano displays will show up in the television market, or are they going to be marketed for smaller screens like phones and tablets?

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