A report from the Taiwan-based tech publication Digitimes suggests the microLED displays that are mostly seen these days at trade show stands will start seeing broad adoption as early as 2024, for a few reasons.
While Sony and Samsung Electronics have unveiled micro LED-equivalent display modules, their prices are over US$50,000 per square meter, far exceeding US$500-1,500 per square meter for 75-inch 4K LCD TVs and US$3,000-6,000 per square meter for 77-inch OLED TVs, Digitimes Research indicates in its Special Report, “Mini/micro LED: Challenges and opportunities in the display industry.”
The research suggests that limitations in size for LCD – the biggest of the big are 120-inches diagonal – have integrators and space designers looking at LED, but wanting better resolution and clarity than what’s possible with conventionally manufactured direct view LED displays.
As sizes of glass substrates are limited for production lines, it is difficult to produce LCD or OLED TV panels of over 120 inches. In comparison, micro LED display modules can be mosaicked into 110-, 220-, 440-, 790-inch or even larger displays and will therefore have market niche in commercial displays of over 100 inches. But, the problem is how to reduce production cost for micro LED panels.
A new manufacturing process via embedding CMOS circuits in micro LED chips seems to be able to hike yield rates and thereby decrease production cost for micro LED panels. The process reduces complexity of mass transfer of micro LED chips onto backplanes to facilitate wafer-level production and testing. In addition, backplanes are not limited to TFT-LCD glass substrates and can be made of glass, metals or flexible materials.
Sony’s Crystal LED product is the most well-known microLED product out there, but others are coming, and there will no doubt be proofs of concept models at ISE in a few weeks. I saw some really interesting examples of mini (bigger, but still teeny) and micro LED (which you genuinely need a microscope to see) at Touch Taiwan last fall.
One of the most interesting companies was – slightly weirdly – from Raleigh, NC, and not Asia. X Display was showing a small microLED demo that could push 30,000 nits (extra zero is correct) and had tech that paired a super-teeny semi-conductor with each light pixel.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.