Philips Components will start pilot-plant production of a new line of light-emitting polymers in Heerlen, the Netherlands, at the end of the year.
The new polymers have been developed for light-emitting polymer displays and backlights for liquid crystal displays in mobile telephones and personal digital assistants.
Because these very thin, high-contrast displays require 10 times less power than existing light-emitting displays, Philips believes sales will exceed $300 million by 2005. The firm estimates today's market for small and medium-size displays in hand-held phones, calculators and automobile dashboards at $2.5 billion.
One-millimeter-thick displays using the new polymers need very little power and can radiate in any color and ensure high brightness and contrast for a long period.
``Lifetimes exceeding 30,000 hours have been recorded,'' said Philips spokeswoman Marianne H. Vincken.
``We believe that our new light-emitting polymer technology will open a complete new world of applications,'' she said. ``The market will continue growing fast because more and more portable products are being used.''
In the new type of display, a solution of the semiconducting polymer is spin-coated onto glass in a simple, inexpensive process, the company said. The resulting thin polymer film is sandwiched between two electrodes. The color of the emitted luminescent light is determined by the polymer's electro-optical properties.
The technology was developed jointly by Philips, Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany, and Uniax Polymer Electronics of Santa Barbara, Calif.
The polymers, which Hoechst supplies, will be processed in Philips' pilot plant in Heerlen. Philips did not disclose the exact nature of the polymer and has not decided on a brand name, ``because the project has just come out of the lab and we took the decision to build a pilot plant only two weeks ago,'' Vincken said.
The pilot plant will cost $10 million to $45 million. Philips gave no indication of the pilot-plant capacity, because it has not determined how well the products can be mass-produced, she said.
As to prices, ``they will be competitive with existing solutions made in other technologies,'' Vincken said.