Micro-LED displays: challenges and opportunities
MicoLED displays may re-shape the existing LED and display supply chain, says IDTechEx report
Micro-LEDs could become a mainstream technology for displays of all sizes, according to IDTechEx, which outlines the challenges and opportunities in a new report 'Micro-LED Displays 2020-2030: Technology, Commercialisation, Opportunity, Market and Players'.
Display markets today are dominated by LCDs, whose manufacturing is shifting to China for cost reasons. OLED technology is used in premium displays and is dominated by South Korean firms. Micro-LEDs open up some new opportunities, says IDTechEx. They offer wide colour gamut, high luminance, low power consumption, excellent stability and long lifetime, wide view angle, high dynamic range, high contrast, fast refresh rate, transparency, seamless connection, and sensor integration capability, etc.
An increasing number of Micro-LED prototypes have already been displayed to the public but there are still engineering and manufacturing issues to overcome. For instance, conventional LEDs can reach external quantum efficiencies (EQEs) to ~70 percent, while tiny micro-LEDs less than 10 µm in size may struggle to reach 20 percent. Red LEDs are especially challenging with low EQEs and brittle features. Tiny micro-LEDs have large surface areas, which may lead to more defects during the fabrication process.
Solving engineering/manufacturing challenges is important, including die size miniaturisation while maintaining the high efficiency, chip design and chip manufacturing technique improvement.
There are many steps and processes to fabricate a micro-LED display, with varied difficulties. In earlier years, the major focuses of research and development were on die miniaturisation, chip design, efficiency enhance, mass transfer and full colour realisation. Recently, more and more players realise a complete understanding of all of the processes is the key. Therefore, an increasing number of firms have put more efforts on technologies such as inspection, repair, driving, image improvement, light management and high-volume production equipment.
Involving multiple existing industries and new industries, micoLED displays may re-shape the existing LED and display supply chain, resulting in a lengthy and complex new one. New technology approaches and new products can also provide new opportunities for the players, such as the CMOS industry can take a position in the micro-LED-based micro-display supply chain. Each player will optimise their gain in the value chain, and therefore, a deep understanding of the technology and market status is important.