MicroLED is attracting more and more attention. So far, startups have raised more than $800 million, including at least $100 million in 2019. It is estimated that Apple spent between $1.5 billion and $2 billion on this technology in the past five years. Panel makers such as Samsung Display, LG Display, AUO and Innolux have also increased their investment.
In the context of this trend, Yole Développement (Yole) presented a new report entitled “MicroLED Industry”. “There is no doubt that MicroLED has made progress in all aspects.” Yole shows Dr. Eric Virey, principal analyst for the market and technology, who announced in his new report that he has revealed the current state of the technology and its adoption.
The report shows that MicroLED’s patent applications are exponentially growing and technology is improving. In the past 24 months, the external quantum efficiency of the blue-green MicroLED chip has more than doubled. The performance of some transfer and assembly processes is close to the performance required to achieve some MicroLED consumer applications. Significant progress has also been made in the expansion of prototypes displayed by nearly 20 companies over the past 18 months.
Dr. Zine Bouhamri of Yol Technology and Market Analyst and Display Division explained: “The range of presentations is very broad, including various display types, sizes and technologies. Native RGB or color conversion displays on TFT backplanes are provided by many companies. , including Playnitride, CSOT, Samsung, LG, GLō, AUO, Elux, and Kyocera, etc. Lumiode has developed native RGB or color-converted displays on a single-function integrated LTPS."
The microdisplays on the CMOS backplane were also demonstrated by Plessey, GLō, Lumens, JB Display, Sharp and Ostendo, and discrete microdrive ICs were developed by X-Display. Multiple prototypes based on TFT backplanes have led to the belief that MicroLED displays can leverage the capabilities of existing panel manufacturers to simplify production and supply chains.
Equipment manufacturers have noted and began developing special tools for MicroLEDs for assembly, bonding, inspection, testing and repair.
LED manufacturers are also showing interest, and Sanan plans to invest $1.8 billion to build a mini and MicroLED manufacturing base. OSRAM, Seoul Semiconductor, Nichia or Lumiled are also adding activities, and Playnitride is completing its first MicroLED test line.
However, there are still important obstacles to critical applications. For many of them, economics pushes mold size requirements below 10μm, which combines the challenges of efficiency, transfer and manufacturability, and despite the great improvements, the efficiency of small molds is still low. In most cases, the display efficiency based on this technology still cannot be compared with OLED. Therefore, we need to make significant efforts to further improve the internal quantum efficiency, light extraction and beam shaping of green and red MicroLED chips.
For MicroLED, the first few prototypes provide a strong return on experience, but mature consumer displays may require more products. Startups are entering the Valley of Death: Many companies may not be able to raise enough funds to successfully survive this capital and resource-intensive phase. As a strategic investor or development partner, support and partnership with large display manufacturers or OEMs is critical.
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