Earlier in January, Belgium-based MICLEDI announced that it raised 4.5 million Euro to develop next-generation MicroLED microdisplays for AR applications.
We had a short talk with MICLEDI's CEO, Sean Lord, who helped us understand a bit more about the company's technology and goals. MICLEDI is indeed focused entirely on the AR market, and so aims to provide display engines that will be extremely bright (over 10 million nits), efficient, and with a very small footprint. In addition costs are also important for the future consumer AR market.
MICLEDI believes that the only way to achieve high brightness, efficient and cost effective microdisplays is to use the latest generation 300mm wafer manufacturing platform. As the company was spun-off from IMEC, it has access to the top-of-the-art pilot-line facilities at IMEC which it uses to develop microLED integration on 300mm CMOS wafers. MICLEDI says that it is the only microLED company operating on a 300mm wafer platform today.
The company is not in the technology licensing business, but is developing a complete supply chain for microdisplay components, or "light engine” as they call it. This will basically be a single chip that will include the LED arrays, the advanced CMOS backplane, the driver electronics and optics - all tested and calibrated for AR headset use. This highly integrated solution enables MICLEDI’s customers to enjoy an extremely small display footprint, a low power consumption, and an excellent image quality that can be calibrated and tuned for specific headset requirements.
Of course to create an entire light engine is a large undertaking - and MICLEDI understands that it will take the company several years before it could actually reach the market - which it believes will be the right timing as real consumer AR products are not expected to reach the market before 2023 or 2024 or so. MICLEDI is a fabless company, which means it will partner with LED (epi) wafer suppliers, and with semiconductor foundries to integrate and package its displays. This is another advantage of its strong ties with IMEC, as even at its early stage it has access to 300 mm equipment to create prototypes and even samples.
Finally, following the financing round completion, the company is now seeking to expand its team - and is especially looking for microLED design engineers with a strong background in optics, LED manufacturing and test. More details available at the company website www.micledi.com.