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. MicroLED displays are often compared to OLED displays - the main display technology that it is rivaling.
Samsung MicroLED displays
Samsung Display and Samsung Electronics are mostly interested in microLED technology for TV applications, but the company is also developing other microLED display technologies, including ones for smaller displays which may one day power wearables, smartphones, tablets and laptops and monitors.
For the TV market, Samsung has two R&D initiatives. First up uses what should be called mini-LED chips to create large-area tiled microLED displays (more on this below). Samsung's LED chip supplier is San'an Optoelectronics. Samsung is also developing finer-pitch displays which will target more consumer-sized solutions. These TVs aren't available yet, and the company's partnerד in this project are Taiwan's PlayNitride and Epistar. It was reported that Samsung aims to release its first such TVs in 2020 but apparently there are still some challenges and these plans will have to be delayed.
Samsung The Wall microLED TV
Samsung's microLED TV product range, made from tiled display modules, is called The Wall. Its commercial TV range "The Wall for Business" is currently shipping with several fixed sizes, such as 219" and 292" 4k options and 437" and 587" 8k options. It is also possible to customize these displays. Samsung is also offering the more "consumer" version, The Wall Luxury, which offers smaller pixel pitches and sizes up to 292" at 8K.
Samsung's "The wall Luxury" is made from individual tiles each is 806.4 x 453.6 x 72.2 mm (WxHxD) in size, with a resolution of 960x540. These are based on 0.84 mm microLED pixels offering a 120Hz refresh rate, a peak brightness of 2,000 nits and a maximum brightness of 250 nits.
The Wall Luxury MicroLED tile
The Wall Professional uses tiles of the same resolution but with a lower peak brightness (1,600 nits) and a higher maximum brightness (500 nits).
The latest Samsung MicroLED news:
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.
Yole Developpement reports that about 5,500 microLED patents (2,500 patent families) have been filed, by more than 350 organizations. The rate of patent filing is growing exponentially - 40% of the patents were filed in 2019.
According to Yole, the recent patent filing shows that the industry is moving from prototypes to commercial consumer displays. Other notable new finding include that startup companies are a major innovation force, Apple is slowing down with its IP (but this could mean that the company is now focused on commercialization), and Samsung pursues multiple development tracks. BOE is another strong microLED IP player, with almost 150 patent familiies filed in 2019.
Digitimes reports that Samsung Electronics has partnered with Taiwan-based Epistar to supply the Korean display maker with micro-LED chips, as it aims to release its first microLED TVs in H2 2020.
According to Digitimes, Epistar will work together with PlayNitride to supply the microLEDs. Epistar is an investor in PlayNitride. Digitimes says that PlayNitride is currently producing over 1,000 6" microLED wafers per month, and is aiming to increase its production capacity to 10,000 monthly wafer this year.
Samsung announced that it is expanding its MicroLED commercial TV range "The Wall for Business" with new sizes - 437" and 587" inch, both in 8K resolution. These new sizes join the existing 219-inch and 292-inch 4K models.
Samsung is also offering the "consumer" version, The Wall Luxury, which offers smaller pixel pitches and sizes up to 292" at 8K.
Samsung Electronics and Niio, a premium media art platform, launched an open-call competition called the Samsung The Wall x Niio Art Awards. Artists are invited to send their art works, and the winner will be exhibited internationally on Samsung’s The Wall 4K MicroLED display.
The competition also includes $15,000 in cash prizes. The show itself will take place in the summer of 2020 at ten locations including Korea, Singapore, the UK and the US. The winners will be selected by a panel of renowned experts in visual arts.
iBeam Materials shows how to deposit both FETs and microLEDs directly on flexible metal foil substrates
iBeam Materials announced that it had successfully demonstrated the ability to produce high-performance GaN Field-Effect Transistors (FETs) directly on thin, flexible and rollable metal foil substrates.
This new technology complements iBeam's microLED deposition technology (demonstrated in the video above), and these FETs can be integrated with microLED chips in a side-by-side architecture. Both FETs and MicroLEDs are deposited on the flexible substrate without any transfer process.
Samsung announced that it will introduce new modular MicroLED TVs for the consumer market (The wall Luxury) in 2020, with 75", 88", 93", 110", 146", 150", 219" and 292" size options. It's professional The Wall MicroLED TVs are fully customized in size.
Samsung is showing these next-generation TVs at CES 2020 - as you can see in the videos above and below - some very nice demonstrations!