MicroLED technology is a next-generation emissive display technology that promises highly efficient and bright displays that offer superior image quality with infinite contrast and a wide color gamut.
MicroLED can be applied to displays of many kinds - from small displays for smartwatches and AR devices to large-area TV displays.
Tiled MicroLED TV displays
One unique feature of microLED technology is the ability to create seamless large-area displays made from small display tiles. This unique feature is interesting because it can creates extremely large displays in which the cost grows linearly with display size, unlike standard LCD and OLED TV displays which grows exponentially more expensive as display grows.
The Wall by Samsung
Several companies developed such tiled display technology, including Sony, Samsung, LG and others. Tiled large-area microLED TVs are available on the market today, but prices are very expensive and these are highly premium devices.
One interesting thing to note is that while most so-called microLED TVs are indeed emissive displays, the actual LED chips inside these TVs are mini-LEDs and not microLEDs.
Consumer MicroLED TVs
Companies are also developing consumer-grade MicroLED TVs. These will be produced on standard TFT glass substrates, in a similar fashion to OLEDs and LCDs. Producing such consumer MicroLED displays at competitive prices is a huge challenge due to the extreme number of microLED chips - a 4K TV requires almost 25 million individual microLED chips - and these need to be produced on a wafer and transferred to the final TV substrate.
It will likely take many years before consumer MicroLED TVs at affordable prices can be produced.
The latest MicroLED TV news:
In July 2020 we reported that LG Electronics will soon launch its first microLED TV. Today LG Electronics indeed announced its MAGNIT TV product (name apparently derived from magnificent and nit).
The MAGNIT TVs are made from 160x180 modules. These modules are arranged 8 each in a so-called Cabinet (which offers a 640x360 resolution). The MAGNIT offers a brightness of 600 nits (peak 1,200 nits) and feature LG's AI solution (based on its a7 image processor). LG says it uses a new advanced coating technology that maximizes black levels and increase resistance to dust, humidly and finger marks.
PlayNitride introduced several new display technologies at SID DisplayWeek 2020. First up we have the PixeLED Matrix, which is a tiled microLED display module based display, each produced on its own PCB.
Each PixeLED module is made from 16 pixels (4X4), and can reach pitches of 0.3-0.4 mm. PlayNitride says that this technology can compete with mini LED displays, and says that it achieves a superior contrast and can also be fitted on curved surfaces. PixeLED displays can be used for TV displays, for commercial signage displays and also for automotive lighting. The display can currently achieve a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits.
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.
LG Electronics will soon launch its first microLED TV. These are tiled TVs, made from seamlessly connected 640x360 tiles - these are similar TVs to what is available today from Samsung, Sony and Konka.
These new microLED TVs will likely target the commercial market and also ultra-premium residential installations - and will be LG's flagship TVs. LG will be selling these under its business solutions unit, and it seems as if it will start shipping in August 17, 2020.
Market research firm Omdia sees a strong growth in the microLED market in the future, led by demand from the smartwatch and TV markets. Omdia says 16 million MicroLED displays will ship in 2027 - over 10 smartwatch displays and 3.3 million TVs.
This is impressive growth, but even with such projected growth microLEDs will have limited penetration in the display market in 2027.
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.
Samsung Electronics launched a new The Wall experience zone at the Galleria Department Store in Suwon, Korea. The company is showcasing a 146-inch microLED The Wall TV.
This is the first time Samsung is showcasing its microLED TVs to the public. The company said that it will expand this exhibition to other Galleria Department stores in Korea.
In December 2019, China-based display maker Konka launched its tiled large micro-LED displays, under the APHAEA brand. The company demonstrated two such displays - a 118" 4K one that costs $240,000 and a 236" 8K one that costs $1.25 million.
Konka is gearing up to produce its own MicroLED and miniLED chips, and has ordered several of the company's production systems, specifically the AIX G5+ C and AIX 2800G4-TM MOCVD systems. Konka will use these CVD reactors to produces GaN-based and AsP-based microLEDs and miniLEDs.