Samsung purchases Orthogonal's mask-less OLED production IP

Reports from Korea suggested that Samsung Display acquired 5 patents from US-based Orthogonal, that contains the company's mask-less OLED production process. With this purchase, SDC has a path towards developing its own maskless OLED production.

Maskless OLED production is of high interest lately, as these technology could offer higher pixel aperture ratio leading to higher efficiency, brightness and lifetime and brighter OLEDs, compared to FMM-based production processes. JDI for example claims its eLEAP technology enables an 2X increase in brightness and a 3X increase in lifetime, coupled with reduced production costs.


SDC's interest in maskless OLED production was already reported last year. It was suggested that the company is looking to exclusively license the technology from one of its developers. Now it seems that SDC found its technology, and actually acquired the patents. We do not know the financial terms of this acquisition. 

In 2022, Japan Display (JDI) announced that it has developed a "historic breakthrough in display technology" - a new OLED deposition process which they refer to as eLEAP, that is said to be cost effective and can be used to create freeform OLEDs that are brighter, more efficient, and longer lasting compared to OLEDs produced using mask evaporation (FMM). In April 2024 we reported that JDI is progressing to start eLEAP production by the end of 2024 at its Mobara production line, focusing on laptop display.

JDI eLEAP aperture ratio image


eLEAP is based on a lithographic method, and does not require any masks. The main advantage seems to be that OLED displays produced by eLEAP technology can achieve an aperture ratio of 60%, compared with FMM OLEDs which achieve a ratio of about 28%. This means that the OLED displays can be driven at lower currents - which extends the lifetime, improves the efficiency and also enables higher-peak brightness when needed. JDI claims that eLEAP displays offer a boost of 2X in emission efficiency and peak brightness - while lifetime is extended by of 3X (which also reduces burn-in problems).

Visionox also developed its own maskless OLED production technology, called Visionox Intelligent Pixelization (or ViP for short) that enables higher-density display production, at over 1,700 PPI. Development started in 2016, and over the years the company showed several demonstrations. Visionox filed over 500 ViP related patents, and in December 2023 it announced that it has produced the first mass-production sample ViP AMOLED display as it aims to start mass producing small and medium-sized ViP AMOLED soon (and later apply the technology for large-area panels as well).

The idea behind ViP is to replace the fine metal mask (FMM) method with photolithography-based pixel patterning. The process offers several advantages, mainly the increase of aperture ratio to almost 70% (Visionox says the currently reach 69%). FMM methods usually achieve up to 30%, which means that brightness, efficiency and lifetime can all be increased. Visionox reports that when combined with its tandem-stack architecture, its ViP OLEDs enjoy a 6X increase in lifetime, or about 4X increase in brightness, compared to its standard FMM AMOLEDs.

SEL developed a process that does not use FMM, and can be highly effective. One interesting note about SEL's new production process is that the encapsulation of the OLED materials is performed before the patterning process, which is based on wet etching. This is unlike other production processes in which the encapsulation is the last step of the process. We do not have a lot of information on SEL's maskless process.

SEL developed many other innovative OLED technologies, including an OLED device architecture called ExTET ('exciplex triplet energy transfer') that can increase the performance of OLED devices, CAAC-IGZO (C-Axis aligned crystalline In-Ga-Zn-O) backplane technology, flexible OLED embedded photodetectors, foldable OLED technology and more. 

Posted: Jun 15,2024 by Ron Mertens