Japanese tyre firm Bridgestone has developed a material that can be used to make display screens consuming one-five hundreth the power of conventional LCDs (liquid crystal displays), the company announced on Wednesday.

The new material, developed using nanotechnology, could be used to make display panels which respond to moving images 100 times faster than LCDs for around half the cost, a Bridgestone spokesman said.

The material is an extremely fine powder in which the particles, floated by static electricity, act like a fluid, said the spokesman.

Because the particles are floating, they allow electricity to flow faster than through a solid, so can quickly respond to moving images, he said.

Unlike an LCD panel, which requires a complex structured TFT (thin film transistor) device, Bridgestone's development only needs a simple matrix as a driving device, so it consumes less power, he said.

Display panels made with the particles will be brighter, reflecting more than 45 percent of ambient light — a conventional LCD panel reflects 30 percent, the spokesman said. This means panels will be viewable without a backlight under a dim outside light source, he said.

The new material also requires fewer components to make a display panel than liquid crystal, which is more costly than the particles and needs a reflective panel and a backlight. "You just need to put the particles between two glass plates for our material. No need for a complicated process," he said.

Because of this simple structure and the fast response to moving images, the company targets the technology at mobile devices such as mobile phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants), which are beginning to be used for viewing streaming video services, he said.

Bridgestone plans to to unveil a prototype in the third quarter this year, start sample shipping in the second half of next year and begin mass production by the end of 2003, he confirmed.

Another challenger to the LCD is the OELD (organic electroluminescence display).

Companies such as Sony, Sanyo and Kodakare developing the devices, which emit their own light, avoiding the need for a backlight and saving power. OELDs are also suitable for moving images and offer good colour reproduction.

But Bridgestone's spokesman sees room in the market for both its development and OELD’s.

"We do not want to say this new development is better than OELD or this will take over the position of it. We'd rather think of that the electric display markets will have various types of display technologies so that users can choose according to their needs," he said.