Innovation Is a Big Tent


by Paul Drzaic
President, Society for Information Display

The Society for Information Display (SID) has a well-deserved reputation for facilitating innovation in the electronic-display industry. In this column, though, I want to discuss connecting to organizations outside of SID that also innovate in areas of science and technology that are relevant to displays. These groups tend to cover topics that are somewhat different from those prevalent at SID events, but that nonetheless represent intriguing opportunities for connection to SID.

As one example, the Materials Research Society (MRS) holds two yearly meetings that draw over 10,000 participants between them, and cover nearly 100 different symposia topics. Meeting emphasis is clearly on research, and much of the work is fundamental and exploratory. But since one definition of "materials" is "matter that is useful," most of the research has an eye toward possible applications down the road. Optical and electrical materials are a major area of focus, so references to electronic displays are abundant.

I attended the most recent meeting of the MRS last fall, and there was plenty of early-stage work that could become the basis of commercial electronic-display technology in a 5–10-year time frame. What were some of these topics? How about super-compliant and even stretchable electronics, self-assembled nanoscale dielectrics for transistors, zinc-oxide-based transistors, and N-channel organic semiconductors, for organic CMOS circuitry? Since these all represent research, most may never amount to practical application, but it's almost a sure bet that some will.

It was nice to see several familiar faces from SID conferences at the MRS meeting. Even better were the talks during which the speakers cited work that had been first unveiled at a SID Symposium. This is great exposure for our society, and we would all benefit from spreading the word about SID to people who may not be familiar with what we do.

As another example of cross-society fertilization, I'll relate my experience in speaking at a Bay Area IEEE chapter meeting last year. This IEEE Packaging Group was interested in hearing what was new in flexible displays, and the Bay Area SID chapter cooperated by publicizing the event. The IEEE chapter leadership was quite pleased when over 100 people showed up for the talk – about double the number of attendees normally on-hand. These extra 50+ people were mostly SID chapter members, so the IEEE got a chance to advertise their activities to a new audience. In return, over 50 IEEE members got to hear about topics relevant to them in the field of displays and discover that the local SID chapter events are a good place for them to turn to learn more. It was win-win all around.

The lesson here is that the field of electronic displays is a big tent. There are large numbers of people who could be enticed to participate in more SID events if they were made aware of these connections. Moreover, our field of displays could benefit from bringing in topics and points of view from outside our normal circles of contact. I would ask all our members to consider reaching out to groups beyond SID and to spread the word about what we do. •