A spotlight on 3M: a MicroLED Industry Association member

We're happy to interview 3M, as part of our series of interviews with MicroLED Industry Association members. The 3M Company, based in the US, operates in the fields of industry, worker safety, U.S. health care, and consumer goods. The company produces a wide range of products (over 60,000, in fact), and its Display Materials and solutions Division (DMSD) is offering several products for the industry – transparent adhesives (OCAs), micro/nanoreplication technologies, printable optical materials, and multilayered optical film.

Hello! Can you introduce your company and technology?

3M is a leading global science company with a diversified portfolio of products and services. We have been in business for over 120 years, and we are committed to applying science to solve the world's toughest problems. 3M has been serving a wide range of industries, including Safety & Industrial, Transportation & Electronics, Health Care and Consumer. We have a strong track record of innovation, and we are constantly developing new products and technologies.


Especially, DMSD (Display Materials and Solutions Division, in Transportation & Electronics business group) have developed micro/nano-patterning, multilayer optical film, printing materials and optically clear adhesive technologies for enabling advanced display experiences by closely working with industry leaders. To share these details with MIA members, we have consolidated 3M DMSD technology introduction slides. Please refer to this presentation. We would be delighted to discuss further details in a separate meeting or call as well.

Can you say why you joined the microLED association and what it is you hope to achieve?

MicroLED is an intriguing technology that has the potential to revolutionize the display industry. However, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed before it can be widely adopted.

We believe that joining the MicroLED Industry Association (MIA) would be a great opportunity for us to collaborate with other industry leaders and share our expertise. We are particularly interested in working with experts from various fields to identify major pain points in microLED technology and solve them together.

What is your biggest challenge, and success to date in the microLED industry?

The lack of a proven standardized process for microLED development and mass production, from chip making to transfer, testing, light management, and driving, is a really interesting prospect in terms of potential development. However, we believe it is the microLED industry's biggest challenge for active development investment from key players.

Amongst various technical challenges in microLED development, 3M DMSD (Display Materials and Solutions Division) has been focusing on light management in microLED displays, such as color, viewing angle, ambient contrast, and optical crosstalk. We believe that these are all important challenges that need to be addressed in order to bring microLED displays to real consumer electronics market and we can leverage our R&D and manufacturing capabilities about optics and display components.

As a display component developer, one of the most critical challenges is that we don’t have a suitable testbed for evaluating new ideas and concepts. We have many interesting ideas for microLED displays, which we have validated through modeling. However, still the lack of a microLED testbed is a major obstacle to our progress.

Can you detail your latest prototype/demonstration?

We are working for optically designed multilayer films, diverse range of nanoscale patterns on substrates, printing materials that can deliver the required optics, and advanced optical adhesives. Please refer to the attached file for more details. We would be happy to discuss further in more detail the problems to solve and our demos through separate meeting under preferred settings.

How do you see microLEDs changing the display industry in the next 5-10 years?

We have seen the evolution of display technologies from PDP to LCD to OLED, and now we are on the cusp of the next major advancement: microLED. In the next 5-10 years, we will overcome many of the technical challenges that have hindered microLED adoption, and we will see a wide range of interesting display applications emerge. We believe that wearables and TVs will be the first major applications to adopt microLED, as they offer the potential for superior display experiences. And, other applications, such as automotive displays and augmented reality/virtual reality headsets, will follow.

In the wider view of the display industry, we believe that microLED, OLED, and LCD will all continue to coexist for many years to come. Each technology has its own strengths and weaknesses, and no single technology is likely to completely replace the others. Instead, we expect to see a healthy mix of technologies, with each one competing to satisfy the needs of different users. For example, OLED is likely to remain the dominant technology for smartphones and tablets, while microLED may be better suited for large-screen TVs, AR headsets and watches.

Posted: Aug 07,2023 by Ron Mertens