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Glance at almost any portable electronic device and you see a liquid crystal display (LCD)-but these ubiquitous screens are far from perfect. Displays using light-emitting organic materials rather than liquid crystals are lighter weight, can be viewed from wider angles and consume less energy.

While several crude devices have been commercialized, real competition with LCDs will require that organic electroluminescent (OEL) materials be combined with active-matrix technology, in which the electronics are built into the display.

Eastman Kodak and Sanyo Electric claim to have jointly developed an active-matrix OEL display that will be ready for market in 2001. A dime-thin, 6-centimeter prototype incorporates a thin layer of Kodak’s OEL material on a substrate of polysilicon and glass. The companies plan to commercialize the display first for cameras, camcorders and personal digital assistants; future generations could find their way into pagers and cell phones, and eventually into laptop computers.

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