A microgap flat panel display which includes a thin gas-filled display tube that utilizes switched X-Y "pixel" strips to trigger electron avalanches and activate a phosphor at a given location on a display screen. The panel utilizes the principal of electron multiplication in a gas subjected to a high electric field to provide sufficient electron current to activate standard luminescent phosphors located on an anode. The X-Y conductive strips of a few micron widths may for example, be deposited on opposite sides of a thin insulating substrate, or on one side of the adjacent substrates and function as a cathode. The X-Y strips are separated from the anode by a gap filled with a suitable gas. Electrical bias is selectively switched onto X and Y strips to activate a "pixel" in the region where these strips overlap. A small amount of a long-lived radioisotope is used to initiate an electron avalanche in the overlap region when bias is applied. The avalanche travels through the gas filled gap and activates a luminescent phosphor of a selected color. The bias is adjusted to give a proportional electron multiplication to control brightness for given pixel.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.