Micro-LED is regarded as a promising next-generation display technology that is being quietly developed by major brand companies in various industries. According to LEDinside, a division of TrendForce, displays for wearable devices and large indoor public displays are two applications that offer micro-LED the quickest paths to commercialization.
Furthermore, LEDinside estimates that having all wearable devices and indoor public displays on the market to switch to micro-LED would consume as much as 50% of the current LED production capacity worldwide.
“Typically, developers of new display technologies would first create solutions for small-size display applications,” said LEDinside analyst Philip Chang. “They eventually transfer their technologies to displays of larger sizes as they overcome problems related to the yield rate and cost. However, micro-LED’s two potential applications are at the opposite ends of the size spectrum. On one hand, wearable devices such as smartwatches have the smallest displays around. On the other hand, we have the extremely large indoor public displays.”
Chang furthermore pointed out the development of micro-LED is very different from other display technologies: “Micro-LED combines the pixel and the light source together into one package. Therefore, specifications and product development for this technology will depend on sizes and volumes of pixels needed for various applications. Small-size displays have the advantage of having lower pixel volumes. Displays of wearable devices, for example, are usually smaller than a two-inch silicon wafer. Micro-LED solutions for this applications even allows for the wafer bonding process, which simplifies the LED manufacturing process and lower the technology barriers for LED suppliers.”
Adoption of micro-LED in large-size display applications has an advantage of products having lower pixel densities (as expressed in pixels per inch or PPI). Micro-LED solutions for large-size but low PPI displays do not need to significantly scale down their LED packages. However, the LED usage volume for micro-LED display increases with the size of the screen panel, and the technology is currently not mature enough to be transferred to large-size applications.
“Having several smaller micro-LED display modules connected together to form one giant screen could bypass the need to mass produce large single-panel displays,” noted Chang. “At the same time, this method also reduces LED usage volume and addresses the yield rate issue associated with increasing the display size. Theoretically, large indoor micro-LED display systems based this “connected structure” design will likely become practical products sooner than wearable devices with micro-LED displays.
Currently, Taiwanese companies that are focusing on the R&D of micro-LED include Epistar, PlayNitride, Industrial Technology Research Institute, AU Optronics and Innolux. Providing a complete supply chain solution would be developmental advantage for Taiwanese micro-LED display manufacturers. Major international branded electronics makers and LED suppliers such as Samsung, LG, Nichia, Sharp and Sony are also very active in the field. Among them, the leaders in terms of transferring the technology to end applications are LuxVue, which was acquired by Apple, and X-Celeprint, which spun off from the University of Illinois.
LEDinside is proud to present LEDforum 2016 at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) International Convention Center on September 30. This event will feature detailed presentations on the micro-LED supply chain, including materials, manufacturing process, system integration, end-use applications and market trends. We cordially invite industry representatives and friends in the media to take advantage of this opportunity and participate in the conference.
For more information about the event, please visit: http://seminar.trendforce.com/Ledforum/2016/US/index