Linde Electronics has completed its high-purity nitrous oxide (N2O) gas infrastructure with the acquisition of a new plant in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, China to help accelerate the adoption of metal oxide transistors by display manufacturers.

The acquisition follows the expansion of an existing plant in Taiwan and a new plant under construction in Korea. Linde LienHwa (LLH), The Linde Group’s joint venture with LienHwa MiTAC Group of Taiwan, manages both the plants in China and Taiwan. The electronics specialty gas N2O plays a crucial role in enabling the cost-effectivedevelopment of next-generation ultra high definition (UHD) 3D TFT-LCD and OLED displays.

Improving electron mobility in transistors is crucial in bringing higher resolutions and higher frame rates to TVs, mobile and computing devices. The manufacture of UHD 3D displays is currently expensive, requiring the use polysilicon transistors, which cost twice as much as those using amorphous silicon. By replacing polysilicon with metal oxide, it is possible to increase electron mobility by a factor of up to 40 compared with conventional technology, at a comparable cost. Consequently, more and more display manufacturers are working to implement metal oxide transistors. This will enable the cost-effective manufacture of UHD 3D displays, and the introduction of next-generation TVs, mobile and computing devices with an attractive price point.

Metal oxide transistor manufacturing requires high volumes of high-purity N2O, as the electronics specialty gas is used to create functional layers of the microscopic thin-film transistors required to control each of the millions of pixels that make up the visible image. Linde’s N2O plants in Korea, Taiwan and China will facilitate the development of higher resolution screens for mobile, home entertainment and computing markets.

“There is an increasing demand from consumers for a more immersive viewing experience delivered by high functionality displays, such as UHD 3D TVs, but existing technology is either limited by performance, or very expensive. Metal oxide addresses this need. There are currently about nine major metal oxide projects under development, with new fabs being built or the upgrade of existing facilities underway. These fabs will have a targeted capacity of over 25m TV sets per year by the end of 2013,” says Bruce Berkoff, Chairman of the LCD TV Association.

The use of metal oxide transistors will enable the development of large OLED televisions and displays, improved battery lifetime of tablets and smart phones as well as UHD 3D displays, which have resolutions four times higher than traditional HD 3D displays, at 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.

The majority of leading display manufacturers has recently launched products with metal oxide transistors. Samsung Electronics has unveiled the world’s first 55-inch metal oxide-based OLED TV, which features ‘Smart Dual View’. This technology enables two users to view different channels with one full HD screen. The product attracted worldwide attention by winning ‘Best of Innovation Award’ at CES 2012 in Las Vegas this February. LG Display has also unveiled its 55-inch OLED TV featuring one of the world’s largest and slimmest OLED screens. Additionally, Sharp recently announced that the company has started the commercial production of metal oxide displays in its Kameyama plant.

Linde LienHwa (LLH) China has recently acquired Zhenjiang Xinhua Industrial Gases Co. Ltd., an N2O specialist headquartered in Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu Province, to meet the rapidly increasing demand for N2O from the Chinese display manufacturing industry as the adoption of metal oxide transistors continues to grow. “The acquisition strengthens Linde LienHwa’s product offering capabilities in the Chinese market and demonstrates our continued commitment to customer satisfaction,” affirmed Andrew Lau, President of LLH China.

Andreas Weisheit, Head of Market Development for Flat Panel Displays at Linde Electronics, concludes, “This acquisition and the establishment of two N2O plants in Korea and Taiwan cement Linde’s position as the leading electronics specialty gases supplier and technology partner for the displays industry in Asia, and demonstrate our continued investment and commitment to supporting innovation in this market. The shift from silicon to metal oxide transistors would not be possible without a secure supply of high-purity N2O, which highlights the critical role that specialist gases play in enabling the development of next-generation consumer electronic devices.”

Linde and LLH are currently running six N2O plants in Asia with a capacity of more than 3,000 tns per year. The three new plants will boost design capacity to more than 10,000 tns per year.