IGZO is an acronym for Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide and it’s actually a different type of a semiconductor found in the TFT backplane, not a different panel. In comparison to the standard aSi-TFT IPS display, the IGZO-TFT IPS display greatly saves on power consumption while giving equally accurate and vibrant colors. However, they are much more expensive.
Amorphous Silicon TFT IPS Panels
To clear away the confusion, IGZO is not a type of panel but a different type of transistor in the TFT (thin-film-transistor) backplane. Therefore, it can be implemented in all types of panels including the TN, 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 IGZI-TFT IPS panels.
The IPS (in-plane switching) panels are found in most of the high-end LCD displays because they’re capable of delivering accurate and consistent colors and the impeccable viewing angles. The AH-IPS panel is the latest improvement to IPS panel which produces even more accurate colors and higher pixel density but at a more expensive price. Unlike TN panels, IPS panel cannot provide the 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 the 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 the IGZO-TFT IPS panel and costs around $3000.
At the moment, the main advantage of the IGZO is the very low power consumption. In comparison to the standard a-Si panel monitors, it is up to 80%-90% more power efficient. This is due to the higher electron mobility which is 20-50 times faster than with the regular panels. 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, the IGZO does not. In fact, it produces 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. In fact, 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 more affordable and available. Ideally, once the OLED panel monitors do so as well. The a-Si-TFT IPS panels can produce a near-flawless color quality and accuracy, more so once the HDR10 monitors announced at the CES 2017 are released. This makes the expensive cost of IGZO not quite cost-effective, even after considering that a photo-editing monitor, such as the NEC PA322UHD, can deliver 120Hz at 1080p which is sufficient for high-end gaming but inconvenient for its price.
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 but a rather common thing. 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 IPS panels and the a-Si-TFT IPS panels may not be significant, especially considering the difference in the price at the moment, the IGZO will surely greatly contribute to the future development of displays. Since it can already drastically reduce power consumption and offer stunning pixel density, resolution, and speed, the high-quality transparent displays are step by step closer to reality for all of us to enjoy.