Samsung Display is in talks with Apple of USA about the supply of display panels for laptops and tablets with thin-film caps (TFE) to rigid OLEDs. The thin-film cap is a method applied to flexible OLEDs. By replacing the conventional glass cap, the thickness of the rigid OLED is reduced. It is a so-called hybrid OLED manufacturing process.
According to industry sources, Apple is considering the adoption of OLED displays in its high-end "pro" models among the laptops and tablet PC product lines. The new 16-inch 'MacBook Pro' with OLED display will be added to the laptop lineup. The existing 11-inch 'iPad Pro' display will be changed from LCD to OLED.
Apple has also adopted high-end specifications when selecting flexible OLEDs for the iPhone. The ‘iPhone X’, the first iPhone with an OLED display, was released alongside the iPhone 8 series with an LCD display. Samsung Display exclusively supplies flexible OLED applied to the iPhone.
It has been reported that Samsung Display presented rigid OLEDs applied with thin-film cap processes to Apple for IT panels. The thin-film cap process is used in the flexible OLED production line. Conventional rigid OLEDs covered another glass on the substrate glass and sealed the side to protect the emissive layer.
Rigid OLEDs applied with a thin-film cap process do not require in-cap glass. The thickness becomes thinner as one glass is removed. It has a clear advantage over LCD in terms of thickness. On LCDs, a backlight module and two glasses are added. The reduced thickness can be used to secure the battery space of tablet PCs in addition to the design effect.
Conventional rigid OLEDs composed of two glass panes--front and back--had to go through a slimming process. The increased cost due to the application of thin film encapsulation process will likely to be compensated with the removal of one glass pane and slimming process.
Samsung Display is proactively working toward the application and expansion of OLEDs as the IT panel that is larger than smartphone screens. For two days from the 14th to 15th, the company held a Technology Seminar at the Office Building of Samsung’s American Corporation (DSA) in San Jose, California, by inviting customer companies. Samsung Display said, “in this event, representative global IT manufacturers focused on the excellence of OLEDs.”
Thin Film Encapsulation is a method of stacking organic and inorganic materials. The processing time is longer than in-cap glass. Samsung Display uses equipment of US Kateeva for organic material deposition and Applied Materials of US for inorganic film deposition. The glass in-cap system of the existing rigid OLED production line was supplied by the Korean AP system and LIS. The AP system has completed the development of TFE equipment that implements the inorganic and organic lamination in one system.