Diamonds Are A Screen's Best Friend

Take ordinary window glass, coat one side with a microthin layer of diamond, and you have the makings of an extraordinary video display. That's according to SI Diamond Technology Inc. (SIDT), a five-year-old Houston startup. Founder Howard K. Schmidt says the technology not only promises brighter displays that consume less power but also might cost less. If so, diamond screens could leapfrog Japanese strengths in liquid-crystal displays, now widely used for portable computers.

If that seems a tall order for little SIDT, consider its backers: Last fall, Microelectronics & Computer Technology Corp. (MCC), an Austin (Tex.) consortium, teamed up with SIDT to develop commercial production methods. They aim to bring the first small, 4-inch-by-6-inch, monochrome displays to market later this year--using an MCC "clean room" leased to SIDT. And in mid-February, SRI International's David Sarnoff Research Center, which specializes in video, joined up to develop a color version of SIDT's diamond screen. Schmidt hopes this will lead to hang-on-the-wall TVs by decade's end.

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