Liquid Crystal Supplier Confirms Large-Format LCDs Are A Sunset Technology

June 20, 2023 by Dave Haynes

One of the key suppliers of liquid crystal technology for flat panel display makers has pretty much confirmed what we all sort of know – that LCDs are a sunset technology and various flavours of LED and OLED are gradually taking over, first with TVs.

The tech publication Tom’s Guide has a post up with the headline: It’s official — LCD TVs won’t see any further development

It references an article from the pay-walled Display Daily, and a discussion Editor Bob Raikes had at SID’s Display Week with Merck KGaA, one of the main suppliers of liquid crystal displays to companies like Samsung and LG. Bob REALLY knows his display tech … I met him a few years ago at a trade show in Taiwan.

“I asked EMD (which is the US name of Merck KGaA and is by far the dominant supplier of LC materials), what they were doing to push LC materials for displays onto the next stage … They are developing LCs for privacy windows and antennas, but they told us that ‘there is no pull from clients’ for significant development in LC materials,” Raikes wrote.

“That shouldn’t have been a surprise to me – I have been talking about the switch to OLED and other emissive displays for the premium end (and later the mainstream) of the display market for a lot of years. Still, after decades of reporting on LC developments, it took a moment to sink in!”

Manufacturers are now more focused, in terms of R&D and new product releases, on variations of large-format OLED displays, like ones that amplify the visuals using quantum dots and others that use blue phosphorescent material that extends operating lives and boosts brightness.

Then there are ALL of the microLED, miniLED and related tech that are at or nearing pixel pitch parity with LCD, but offer more brightness and longer operating lives. I saw 0.6mm at InfoComm. It was TV-like. For that business to shift from LCD to LED, big price gaps have to close. But that’s coming.

All that stated, LCD is not going away soon and there is still lots of commercial demand and scale for smaller and fixed size displays, in areas like QSR, workplace and DOOH/retail media networks. It’s more like the TV aisle in a Costco or Best Buy will continue to see more OLED, less LCD.

The only next big thing I am aware of for LCD is reflective LCD – technology that makes LCDs work with sunlight, instead of fighting it with brightness and cooling strategies. Chinese LCD manufacturing giant BOE now has a reflective LCD now and a US company, Azumo, is making and marketing reflective LCDs.

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