Digitimes reports that Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology approved PlayNitride's application to setup a NT$500 million (US$17 million) production facility at Hsinchu Science Park.
PlayNitride aims to produce micro LEDs, display modules and panels at its new facility at Hsinchu. According to Digitimes, Apple is in preliminary talks with PlayNitride towards a possible Micro-LED technology cooperation.
Apple is reportedly progressing with its Micro-LED project, and is already producing sample panels, and is also collaborating with TSMC towards mass production with aims to enter production by the end of 2018 or in early 2019 for wearable displays. This is the first time we hear of a possible Apple-PlayNitride connection.
Last month it was reported that PlayNitride started sampling micro-LED panels, shipping these to 10-20 potential customers. PlayNitride says that it achieved mass transfer and placement yield rates of over 99% in its lab.
In PlayNitride's R&D setup, it takes about 10 seconds to transfer and place 200,000 LEDs - which means that a 5" panel will take only 10 minutes to produce. However the cost for a single smartphone panel could reach about $300 - much higher than the cost of even the highest-end flexible OLED. Possible applications where Micro-LED displays could succeed commercially at this stage include smartwatches, VR / AR, automotive and transparent displays.
In April 2017 it was rumored that Samsung Display is set to acquire PlayNitride for around $150 million. The deal is not final, but in January 2018 it was reported that the two companies are at the final stage of their talk. Meanwhile Samsung signed a long-term agreement to co-develop Micro-LED technologies with San'an Optoelectronics, China's largest LED producer.