South Korea is focusing on cooperative·large displays
Strategies for micro light-emitting-diodes (LEDs) of each region have been introduced. Micro LEDs are considered to be the next generation display technology because they are superior to liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) in terms of brightness, contrast, response speed, and power consumption. However, the manufacturing process has not yet reached commercialization due to the associated difficulties. LED Inside, a LED-specialized media, summarized micro LED strategies by region.
First, US and European manufacturers keep an eye on startups and research institutions. Cree and Illinois State University led the technology development in the US in the early days of micro LED (2000-2013). Apple also acquired the micro LED startup LuxVue in 2014. The head-mounted display patent that Apple applied to its wearable products last year is also related to engineers from LuxVue. The product also used holographic patents to support micro LED displays on its wearable devices.
Last September, an auto parts company in Canada, Magna, set up a joint venture with Rohinni, a US startup company. Magna Rohinni Automotive, established by the two companies, aims to provide a micro LED lighting solution for automobiles. VueReal, a Canadian startup, has begun co-developing solutions for the production of micro LED displays with Veeco, a US semiconductor equipment company. VueReal introduced the 6000ppi 4K micro LED display in 2017.
Korean companies have chosen strategic partnerships with micro LED development companies. This is because their major sources of investment have gone to OLED, causing the investment on micro LED investment to be limited. Sanan Optoelectronics Co., Ltd., a Chinese LED maker, announced earlier last year that it would jointly develop micro LED display with Samsung Electronics. Korean companies that dominate the large-sized TV market are focusing on developing large-sized micro LED display technology. Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have released TVs using micro LEDs at CES and IFA, separately.
Taiwanese companies mainly focus on OEMs. AUO unveiled a high-resolution 8-inch thin-film transistor (TFT)-based micro LED display last May. PlayNitride also introduced two transparent small micro LED displays in the same year. JDC (Jasper Display Corp) has released the micro LED display for portable and wearable devices. JDC supplies silicon backplanes to the Swedish company Glō. Only Foxconn has a completed technology development plan. Foxconn is developing micro LED technology by acquiring eLux in the US. Innolux of the Foxconn Group has newly created a micro LED business unit.
In Japan, Sony led the development of micro LEDs. However, it has been determined that Japanese companies conduct sample verification and testing on their own rather than through business cooperation. Last year, Japan’s ultraviolet (UV) LED company Nitride Semiconductor established its subsidiary, Micro Nitride. This was to expand the development and production of micro-UV LED chips for display applications.
Chinese makers are lagging behind in the field of micro LED development. Most of the interests are gathered around the technology that allows mass production in a short period of time. Most of these companies are in the research and evaluation stage.
On the other hand, in terms of patents, the embryonic stage for micro LED was between 2000 and 2013. During this period, the patent activity was not active because the market demand was insignificant. Sony, Cree, and Illinois State University led technology development at the time. The period after 2014 when Apple acquired LuxVue is regarded as the growth period for micro LED. At this time, Uniquarta of US, Taiwan’s PlayNitride, US Rohinni, Taiwan’s Mikro Mesa, US QMAT, and Canada’s VueReal had expanded their micro LED investments. In the recent two years, panel makers such as Taiwan AUO, China BOE, and China CSOT have also filed for patents. Among micro LED patents, 80% are focused on three areas: mass transfer, display module, and chip manufacturing technologies.