The development of the highest resolution, large-area, active- matrix, flat-panel, imager (AMFPI) thus far reported is described. This imager is based on a 97 micrometer pixel pitch array with each pixel comprising a single a-Si:H TFT coupled to a discrete a-Si:H n-i-p photodiode. While the initial configuration chosen for fabrication is a 2048 X 2048 pixel array, a larger monolithic array format of 3072 X 4096 pixels is also permitted by the design. When coupled to an overlying scintillator such as a phosphor screen or CsI:Tl, the array allows indirect detection of incident radiation. The array is operated in conjunction with a recently completed electronic acquisition system featuring asynchronous operation, a large addressing range, fast analog signal extraction and digitization, and 16-bit digitization. This imager, whose empirical characterization will be reported in a subsequent paper, was developed as an engineering prototype to allow investigation of the performance limits of the most aggressive array designs permitted by present active-matrix technology. The development of this new imager builds upon knowledge acquired from the iterative design, fabrication, and quantitative evaluation of earlier engineering prototypes based on a series of 127 micrometer pitch arrays. This paper summarizes the general program of research leading to this new device and puts this in the context of world-wide developments in indirect and direct detection AMFPI technology. Some limitations of present AMFPI technology are described, and possible solutions are discussed. Specifically, the incorporation of multiplexers based on poly-crystalline silicon circuitry into the array design, to facilitate very high resolution imagers, are proposed. In addition, strategies to significantly improve AMFPI performance at very low exposures, such as those commonly encountered in fluoroscopy, involving the reduction of additive noise (such as through lower preamplifier noise) and the enhancement of system gain (such as through the use of lead iodide) are discussed and initial calculations illustrating potential levels of performance are presented.