Q&A with the CEO of MicroLED driver and backplane developer SAPIEN

SAPIEN Semiconductors, based in Korea, is a fabless design company that provides innovative PWM CMOS backplane and µ-driver ICs for Micro-LED displays. The company utilizes its own patented technologies to achieve lower power consumption, lower leakage, better repairability and improved testability.

In the following interview, we discuss the company’s technology and business with its CEO, Myunghee Lee.

Q: Hello Mr. Lee, thank you for your time. Can you give us a short introduction to SAPIEN and your microLED technologies?

SAPIEN specializes in developing CMOS Backplane SoCs (System-on-Chip) for Micro-LED display applications. SAPIEN was founded in 2017 by industry veterans who have over 230 years of combined design experience in Display Driver ICs (DDI).

We talk lasers in the microLED industry with Bolite Optoelectronics' CEO

The founder and General Manager of Bolite Optoelectronics, Dr. Bowen Cheng, was invited to present at the recent Touch Taiwan 2021 Conference in April. The title of his talk was “Laser Processing Applications for the Manufacturing of Mini and MicroLED Displays.” Since it was presented in Mandarin only, microled-info.com caught up with Dr. Cheng to learn more about this trending subject and the company he started.

Laser repair equipment for TFT arrays (Bolite in partnership with Contrel Technology)

Q: Dr. Cheng, can you please tell us a little about your background, prior to starting Bolite?

I was a research engineer at Xerox PARC and helped develop surface micromachined microspring interconnects in a project funded by the U.S. Army Research in collaboration with Oracle. I was also a vital member of the team that successfully demonstrated the world’s shortest wavelength diode laser at the time, a 250 nm UV laser for military applications. With these experiences in both semiconductor laser processing and MEMS processing, I decided to start Bolite and build a team to develop state-of-the-art laser solutions for microprocessing applications.

Q: I must admit I’ve not heard of Bolite before. What differentiates you from other laser microprocessing companies?

3D-Micromac launches a new microLED LIFT mass transfer tool

3D-Micromac announced a new microLED mass transfer tool, called microCETI. The company says its new technology can be used to transfer over 130 million microLEDs per hour.

MicroCETI is based on a laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) process that can support almost any microLED material and shape. The tool also includes optional modules - a laser lift-off (LLO) module, and a single LED die repair module.

eLux installs a new automated fluidic assembly R&D tool, unveils a new microLED display prototype

USA-based eLux was established in 2016 as a spin-off from Sharp Labs of America, to commercialize a unique MicroLED production technology. A year ago we discussed the company's technology and business with its CEO, Jong-Jan Lee.

eLux automated fulidic assembly tool, 2021

Today eLux announced that it has installed an automated fluidic assembly tool at its prototype fab in Taiwan. The new tool features fully automatic cassette-to-cassette fluidic assembly of ten display panels, each up to 15-inch in size. The tool has provisions for capture and recycle of microLEDs and assembly fluids to minimize operating costs, and its capacity can be expanded by adding two additional modules.

Coherent reports significant increase in MicroLED display system bookings, supplies laser systems to almost the entire industry

Laser equipment maker Coherent says that it saw a "significant increase" in the level of investment and bookings related to MicroLED displays. These tools are going to be used for process development, as a precursor to mass production.

Coherent reveals that its MicroLED customer base includes almost all current OLED and LCD manufacturers and many well-known MicroLED specific startups and display industry integrators. Coherent is offering multiple UV solutions for four separate MicroLED processes - CLA for high performance low power consumption back planes, laser lift-off for customers using sapphire carrier, laser transfer and laser repair.

InZiv Ships MicroLED Characterization Equipment

Israel-based display characterization and inspection equipment maker InZiv has recently announced the shipment of a high-resolution pixel characterization tool to an undisclosed Tier-1 consumer electronics company.

InZiv high-resolution microLED pixel characterization tool closeup photo

InZiv’s tool offers MicroLED defect detection on the wafer and pixel level with unprecedented sub-micron resolutions. Measuring luminescence, spectral wavelengths and 3D structure at the highest resolutions, the equipment enables the identification and the source of defects, accelerating product time to market.

PlayNitride aims to raise a further $100 million for microLED display volume production in 2020

In July 2019 Taiwan-based microLED developer PlayNitride raised $50 million to start trial production of microLED displays. The company now says it seeks to raise over $100 million more as it will require large funds to initiate mass production.

PlayNitride high-brightness high-density passive-matrix wearable Micro-LED prototype (SID 2019)

PlayNitride is considering several production models - from constructing its own production lines, through a joint-venture with strategic partners to the licensing of its technology. The main goal of the company is to start production as soon as possible. The company hopes mass production can begin by the end of 2020.

AU Optronics sees Micro-LED displays entering the market in the next 1-2 years

AU Optronics president, Paul Peng, says that he expects Micro-LED displays to enter the market within 1-2 years. The first displays will be large-area signage and small-sized VR displays. Micro-LEDs for the automotive market will take longer to commercialize - around 5 years.

AUO 12.1'' LTPS micro-LED prototype (August 2019)

AUO recently demonstrated a 12.1" LTPS micro-LED display prototype that features a resolution of 1920x720 (169 PPI). AUO discloses that this display was produced using the company's self-developed transfer process that can move 50,000 - 60,000 LEDs per transfer (AUO did not detail the time it takes to perform a single transfer, though). AUO is now developing repair technology to take care of damaged LEDs.