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IGZO is an acronym for Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide and it’s actually a different type of semiconductor found in the TFT backplane; it’s not a different panel altogether. In comparison to the standard aSi-TFT IPS displays, an IGZO-TFT IPS display greatly saves on power consumption while giving equally accurate and vibrant colors. However, they are much more expensive.
To clear away the confusion, IGZO is not a type of panel but a different type of a transistor in the TFT (thin-film-transistor) backplane. Therefore, it can be implemented in all types of panels including TN, VA, IPS, and even OLED.
The standard transistors in most of these panels are made of amorphous silicon. So, in this article, we’ll be comparing aSi-TFT IPS panels to the IGZO-TFT IPS panels.
Amorphous Silicon TFT IPS Panels
IPS (in-plane switching) panels are found in most of the high-end LCD displays because they’re capable of delivering the most accurate and consistent colors as well as the impeccable viewing angles.
LG’s AH-IPS and mini IPS panels are the latest improvements to the IPS panel technology which offer even more accurate colors.
Unlike TN panels, an IPS panel cannot provide a quick response time of 1ms, but nowadays they can reach up to 4ms response time which is a great improvement in comparison to the older IPS panel models.
IGZO TFT IPS Panels
The IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) compound semiconductor was licensed by Samsung and Sharp. However, it was Sharp who first implemented IGZO into their smartphones, tablets, and 32-inch LCDs.
The IGZO transistor is made from rare metals such as the Indium and Gallium and therefore it is very expensive. For instance, the NEC PA322UHD is a 4K resolution monitor with 14-bit Look Up Table for precise calibration and covers 99.2% of the Adobe RGB color space. It features an IGZO-TFT IPS panel and costs around $3000.
IGZO vs a-Si TFT IPS Displays
At the moment, the main advantage of the IGZO is its very low power consumption. In comparison to the standard a-Si panel monitor, it is up to 80%-90% more power efficient due to the higher electron mobility which is 20-50 times faster than that of a regular panel.
Additionally, this provides a quicker response time, better color rendition, and higher pixel density.
While a-Si panel monitors require more power for the backlighting of the higher pixel density displays, IGZO does not – in fact, it can produce even brighter images at a significantly lower power consumption.
This is ideal for the portable devices with high pixel density. In short, IGZO can deliver better resolution, speed, and pixel density no matter the size of the display. As such, one of the prototypes included a 6-inch IPS display with a 2560×1600 resolution at 498 pixels per inch density.
The Future of IGZO
As this technology is relatively new and not quite widespread, it will take some time until it becomes affordable and available.
The IGZO implementation will make more sense for OLED panels as they share a common unique ability. They can both be made transparent. Once that is fully realized and made available, the invisible touch-sensitive screens will no longer be just a science fiction gimmick.
You would be able to look through the screen while still being able to see the image in high quality. Moreover, the intermittent conductor will also make the ultra-sensitive writable IGZO displays feel like you’re writing on a paper.
While the difference between the IGZO-TFT and a-Si-TFT IPS panels may not be significant for now, especially considering the difference in the price, IGZO will surely contribute greatly to the future development of displays.
Since it can drastically reduce power consumption and offer stunning pixel density, resolution, and speed, the high-quality transparent displays are getting closer and closer to fruition.
Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.