What Industry Professionals Say about Micro LED

LEDinside this time collected insights on Micro LED from seven experts. What do they think about Micro LED and the feasibility of its mass production? What are the elements they think Micro LED should have to be able to win the competition against LCD and OLED?

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Wenjin Xue, Vice President, Nanjing FPD Industry Association

Micro LED is quite different from other new technologies, says Xue. It still has some scientific problems, but its technical problems, or challenges regarding manufacturing processes, are more intractable. The industry will have to think more thoroughly about how to integrate all technologies into one product and make it eventually recognized by the market. The production cost and price performance index (CPI) will be the keys, Xue points out.

Li-Yi Chen, Chairman of Mikro Mesa Technology Co.,Ltd.

Micro LED can be used for not only devices featuring small-sized displays such as AR/VR headsets but those with large-scale ones such as TVs, says Chen. This technology is very suitable for manufacturing transparent displays as the pixels are rather small. According to Chen, Micro LED can also be used in producing flexible displays. It consumes less power. The average power consumption of an 55-inch Micro LED display can be below 5W. Micro LED displays do not require backlights and color filters, and the number of polarizer filters it needs would also be cut by half. Chen stated that Mikro Mesa is currently developing large-sized Micro LED displays, and hopefully will be able to demonstrate a prototype in 2018.

Most of the companies are still observing how the development goes. If it fails, it probably would not make too much difference. However, things might be different if some firms realize that Micro LED can really be a game changer to the industry if the technology is able to take hold in 500 days. After that, those who succeed will be far ahead of the others. Manufacturers can not be too careful in developing their strategic plans, concluded Chen.

Chenke Xu, Deputy General Manager of San’an Optoelectronics

So far, Mini LED seems to be the smallest LED that can be commercialized, shares Xu. What about Micro LED? It needs more time, investment, and solutions to technical problems. However, once it matures, it is very likely to grab a big share in the AR/VR market with its advantages, explains Xu. The deputy general manager continues to make a few assumptions in another two markets. In terms of the TV market, if Micro LED owns a 10% market share, there would be 18 million Micro LED epi-wafers produced for it per year. If it is 50%, 91 million would be how many wafers needed to support that much market share. As for the smartphone market, which is the biggest one, a market share of 10% for Micro LED displays would come from an annual capacity of 108 million wafers.

Charles Li, Chairman and CEO of PlayNitride

PlayNitride has succeeded a small batch of Micro LED production, reveals Li. The current method it uses is able to transfer 200,000 chips every 10-15 seconds. Size wise, Micro LED is far smaller than Mini LED. Therefore, most of its production relies on semiconductor-level techniques. Strictly speaking, traditional LED companies are not able to handle much but only the epitaxial growing process, said the CEO. The chip process definitely has to be done by companies with semiconductor technology. That’s how Li sees Micro LED—products that come out from a LED wafer through a series of intricate, semiconductor-level manufacturing technologies.

Weidong Liu, Deputy General Manager of Hisense Electric Co., Ltd.

Liu explains that local dimming means a lot to LCD displays while rivaling OLED displays. This backlighting technology can reduce light leakage, expand the grayscale, improve color contrast, and, most of all, save power. To use Micro and/or Mini LED in making local dimming-enabled backlight modules, Liu thinks a few aspects should be looked after—1) multi-area driving scheme, 2) lighting efficiency improvement, 3) cost structure optimization, and 4) wide color gamut rendering. He adds Hisense will be a part of the force driving the development of Micro LED.

Roger Chu, Research Director of LEDinside, TrendForce

The reason why Micro LED is believed to be new hope for the LED industry, especially in Taiwan, is that its performance is better than that of OLED, Chu points out. Despite so much news reporting on upcoming Micro LED demos, none of the companies is really able to mass produce their samples. Their production costs are still way too high in comparison to those of OLED and LCD displays. It makes sense to be skeptical of the possibility for Micro LED to take off, Chu explains.

However, Chu also leaks that major companies are teaming up with systems firms, very low-profile though, to design, develop and test their technologies and Micro LED display prototypes. Korean display giants, even if owning advanced OLED technologies, are still eager to tap into the development.

Micro LED went viral once again after Apple announced it would equip its Apple Watch with Micro LED backlights. Chu reckons Apple will need more time to realize that, whether it is a Micro LED-lit Apple Watch or an Apple Watch with a Micro LED display.

Currently, Sony has mass produced Micro LED display modules that can integrate into large-scale digital displays. Each large display is priced at USD 1 million. The company aims at the high-end indoor display market.

Micro LED is also anticipated to enter niche markets such as high-end automotive display market, considering that its heat durability is better than that of OLED. In addition, other components such as sensors can be embedded into a Micro LED display to make it intelligent and multi-functional.

On the other hand, some companies have successfully created small-sized Micro LED display prototypes. Small-sized Micro LED displays for wearable devices, and optical recognition may be rolled out soon in the next few years. Yet, the smartphone market will not see any products with Micro LED displays that soon.

Alexander Loesing, CMO & co-founder, ALLOS Semiconductors GmbH

Alexander also explains why a quality Micro LED display is difficult to produce. A 2K Micro LED display needs 4 million chips, and an 8K Micro LED display needs an amount way more than that. How to drive such a large amount of chips and make them work properly at the same time is a problem. It depends heavily on the reliability of those chips. Micro LED is not only just small but very thin. LED makers should continue to develop approaches to control the thickness of Micro LED within a certain range.

 

Related reading: 

What Academics Say about Micro LED

Veeco, Allos Successfully Demo GaN-on-Si Wafer for Blue and Green Micro LED

Taiwanese Companies to Demo Micro LED Displays in 1H18

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