Epistar Corp, based in Taiwan and established in 1996, is one of the world's largest LED producers. The company specializes in high-brightness LED devices for general lighting and consumer electronics.
Epistar is developing Micro LED chips but has yet to announce any products or market intentions. Some reports suggest the Epistar is likely to first produce 100-micron LEDs (in 2017) to be used in large displays. This will be followed by smaller LEDs for smaller displays.
In October 2018 Epistar established a wholly-owned subsidiary called Yenrich Technology that develops applications for mini LED and micro LED technologies.
In 2020 Epistar announced a merger with fellow Taiwanese LED maker Lextar.
The latest Epistar MicroLED news:
Digitimes reports that Epistar's chairman, Lee Biing-jye says that he estimates that the first volume application for microLED displays is going to be in the smartwatch industry - but that will still take 3-4 years to actually materialize. Volume adoption in the TV market will take at least 4-5 years.
Epistar is developing microLED epitaxy and chip technology (in collaboration with AUO) and still has challenges to overcome, mainly in the mass transfer area. The company expects to achieve reliable production capabilities within 2-3 years. Epistar needs also to improve the yield rates for microLED epitaxy and reduce costs for mass transfer processes.
Last year Taiwan-based LED producer Epistar announced a partnership with China-based LED display maker Leyard Opto-Electronic to setup a Mini-LED and Micro-LED production site in Wuxi, China, in a $142 million investment. Today Digitimes reports that production equipment in Wuxi will be completed by the end of the month, trial production will start in August and mass production will commence in October 2020.
Leyard Opto-Electronic, Epistar's partner, recently unveiled new 2K microLED display modules that can be used individually or combined vertically. The displays come in 40-, 56-, 67- and 81-inch in size. The micro LED chip size is below 100 microns, the pixel pitch is around 0.7 mm in size.
According to reports early in 2020, Samsung Electronics partnered with Epistar and PlayNitride that will enable Samsung to release its first true microLED TVs by the end of 2020. A new report from Korea suggests that Samsung is struggling with technology issues and it is not likely it will meet its goal of a product release in 2020.
The reports suggest that production yields are very low - apparently Epistar is not able to provide Samsung with the millions of microLEDs required to produce its TVs. Another major issues is Samsung's transfer process which is still not accurate enough - with the result being that display assembly yields are painfully low.
The plan is to delist both companies from Taiwan's stock exchange and list the new company by the end of October 2020. The two companies will continue to operate independently, but the holding company's main focus for its future revenue growth will be on mini LEDs and microLEDs products and technologies.
According to a report from Taiwan's Economic Daily news, a new mini-LED and micro-LED display factory is under planning in Taiwan's Hsinchu Science Park. The new fab is built by Apple (who will invest $334 million) in collaboration with AU Optronics and Epistar.
According to the report, the Science Park Administartion approved Apple, Auo and Epistar's plan on February 18. The new fab will act as an expansion of Apple's existing display center in Taiwan.
German-based GaN-on-Si developer ALLOS has applied its technology to large 300 mm epiwafers. ALLOS says that scaling up to 300 mm wafers enables higher production efficiencies and thus lower costs. ALLOS estimates that the higher area utilization alone accounts for a cost advantage of 40% compared to standard LED wafers. Standard 300 mm silicon line tools also offer higher production uniformity and yield.
ALLOS demonstrated the 300 mm scale-up using a reactor made by Veeco who announced selling the first 300 mm GaN reactor to a leading-edge semiconductor fab just some month ago and also showed 300 mm wafer data at CES. ALLOS reports a wavelength uniformity of consistently below 1 nm and "all other production requirements like bow of < 40 µm and SEMI-standard thickness of 725 µm". ALLOS says scaling to 300 mm shows how robust its GaN-On-Si technology is.
Epistar and Leyard Opto-Electronics to build a $142 million micro-LED and mini-LED production fab in China
Taiwan-based LED producer Epistar is in talks with China-based LED display maker Leyard Opto-Electronic to setup a Mini-LED and Micro-LED production site in Wuxi, China. The two companies (actually Leyard and Epistar's subsidiary Yenrich Technology) will setup a joint-venture with a budget of $142 million.
Leyard says that the plan is to form the joint venture six months after getting the final approval for the plan. This will enable the production to begin in the new fab in 2023. It is still not clear whether the new fab will produce mini and micro LED chips - or actual displays.
Digitimes posted an article on recent advances at Epistar, and according to the article Epistar has achieved a recent breakthrough in micro LED technology. Epistar will unveil the achievement in the second-half of 2018.
Last year Digitimes posted an interview with Epistar's president, Jou Ming-Jiunn, in which Jou says that the most optimistic scenario is for micro-LED displays to enter production by the end of 2018, with real devices appearing in 2019.