LG.Philips has developed an LCD panel that's less then 20mm thick.

The announcement follows news of similar developments from Japanese competitors in recent weeks and reinforces a growing trend in the flat-panel display business. No longer is the emphasis on making LCD panels bigger; now it's on making them thinner.

The 19.8mm thick LG.Philips LCD panel is a 42in screen with full high-definition resolution making it suitable for use in future televisions. It's 40 percent thinner and 10 percent lighter than current comparable screens, the company said.

Other details about the panel weren't revealed and there is no word on when it might go into production. LG.Philips LCD plans to unveil it next week at the FPD Expo show in Japan.

In August, Sharp unveiled a 52in prototype display that's 20mm. Sharp said it could be in commercial TVs around 2009 or 2010. At this month's Ceatec exhibition, JVC displayed a 20mm thick 42in LCD panel and Hitachi showed off several prototypes of a 32in LCD TV that's just 19mm thick and could be available in 2009.

In part the race is on because LCD manufacturing plants have hit a limit in the size of panels they can produce. Not only can't current factories make screens much larger than 108-inches - something Sharp has already displayed - but the market for such huge screens is very limited. Making TV sets thinner will likely appeal to many consumers.

In the battle for the world's thinnest TV Sony Corp. has taken an early lead with an 11in set that goes on sale in Japan in December. The screen is based on OLED technology and not LCD. OLED cells emit their own light and so a backlight, which adds depth to the screen, isn't required.

The Sony OLED set is just 3mm thick, will debut on 1 December in Japan and will cost ¥200,000 (£900).