San'an is expanding its Micro-LED capabilities and facilities

In September 2018 we reported that China-based San'an Optoelectronics is gearing up to setup its first micro-LED epitaxial wafer and chip production line in Q1 2019, and in early 2019 it was reported that San'n plans to start sampling Micro LED chips as early as January 2019.

In a new press release, San'an announced that it is advancing with its Micro-LED R&D and capacity investment, and the company has filed for 27 patents and has signed several key partnerships. San'an also says that it has "expanded its manufacturing capabilities and facilities for micro-LED production".

Apple, Samsung and LG filed dozens of Micro-LED patents in Korea

The Korea Herald reports that Apple and its subsidiary LuxVue Technology applied for over 30 Micro-LED patents in Korea in the past 10 years. As Apple's Micro-LED project is progressing, the company aims to prevent its competitors in Korea (mainly Samsung and LGD) from using its key Micro-LED technology.

Luxvue MicroLED patent drawing

According to the report, Apple applied for 11 patents directly, while LuxVue applied for 23 patents. LuxVue was acquired by Apple in 2014. Apple applied for patents that related to the Micro-LED chip structure, the pick-and-place process and the driving system.

Optovate developed a technology to transfer micro-LEDs to an aligned optical array

UK-based Optovate announced that it has developed a technology that enables multiple microLEDs transferred in parallel from a wafer to a substrate to be aligned in one step with a precision optical array.

Micro-optic array and visualized light cones (2018, Optovate)

Optovate says that this technology is protected in a portfolio of 20 granted and pending patents dating from 2008. The company is now looking for display partners to commercialize its technology.

Yole analyzes the Micro-LED patent landscape, sees complex legal battles ahead

Yole Developpement published an interesting article discussing the patent landscape of the MicroLED industry. As of today, almost 1,500 MicroLED patents were filed by 125 companies and organization. The overall corpus has an average of 3.2 years, which makes these patents quite new.

MicroLED patent families by company (January 2018, Yole)

The initial micro-LED patents, filed at around 2000-2001, were mostly by a variety of research institutes, by large companies such as Sony and Sharp but also by startups such as Luxvue (acquired by Apple). The activity in this field is still led mostly by startups, and with the exception of Sony and Sharp, mature display makers are relative latecomers.

NanoGaN purchases micro-LED applicable quasi photonic crystal patents from Luxtaltek

NanoGaN (a subsidiary of UK-based Eipwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE) announced that it has purchased a portfolio of 54 quasi photonic crystals patents from Taiwan's Luxtaltek for $500,000.

NanoGaN says that these newly acquired patents have applications in optical components - including Micro-LED displays. Other possible applications are in the fields of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), modulators, silicon photonics, fiber-optic systems, biosensors and more. IQE believes that due to its existing in-house NIL capability, the firm is well positioned to commercialize the new technology.

A Google patent reveals a Micro-LED based AR device

Google was granted a new patent that describes a micro-LED based AR glasses device. This is a patent from March 2016 that was now granted.

Google Micro-LED AR patent figure

According to the patent description, the Micro-LED active area is aligned to an array of collimating reflectors that reflect a display image back towards a user's eyes. The patent also describes a similar VR device (in which the displays are not see-through).

Apple patents a bi-directional Micro-LED display

A few days ago Apple was awarded with 52 different patents, covering a wide range of technologies that include 3D glasses, in-air gesturing, fingerprint sensing and more.

One of these patents details a Micro-LED device that is able to both emit and sense light. We have seen similar solutions based on OLEDs - in that case the photo-diodes were placed between the OLED pixels, to create a micro-display that can sense light (possible applications are for example eye-tracking in a VR headset).

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