Oxide TFT News
A few weeks ago I posted about Plastic Logic's OTFT-based AMOLED demonstration. While the company's current demo is a simple display (monochrome white), it seems that Plastic Logic believes that OTFT technology is now reaching a performance level for adoption in AMOLED displays.
I discussed this with Mike Banach, Plastic Logic's Research Director. Mike (and the rest of the team at PL too, of course) says that organic semiconducting materials have reached a "tipping point" in electrical performance that makes them viable to drive flexible OLED displays. Couple this with the industrial and flexibility benefits of using solution-based organic materials makes it a compelling technology option for display makers looking to establish a position in the flexible display market.
The SID Display Week, the world's leading display industry showcase is scheduled for June, but the organizers already published the list of papers to be presented in this show. Hiding in this long list of technical achievements and research projects are some interesting new OLED developments. So here's some of the achievements to be announced during the show (at no particular order).
TCL's China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) managed to fabricate a 7" QVGA (320x240) flexible PMOLED display. The display uses a thin PEN substrate, processed at Gen-4.5. The company also proposes a design for a 14" QVGA PMOLED panel. CSOT also developed a 31" Full-HD AMOLED panel that uses a IGZO backplane. The 31" direct-emission panel was produced on a Gen-4.5 glass substrate using FMM.
Sharp was showing their 7" MEMS dispalys at CES 2014, promising MEMS based tablets on the market within six months. Those same prototypes were unveiled a few months ago at Ceatec 2013 in Japan. MEMS-Shutter displays are similar to LCD in that they have a LED backlighting unit (BLU), color filters, and a component that blocks the light. But instead of liquid-crystals and polarizers, these displays use MEMS shutters.
Sharp's 7" prototypes feature a resolution of 1280x768 and are made on IGZO substrates. Sharp claims that MEMS displays will feature ultra-low power consumption but will yet offer excellent image quality and color - in fact Sharp says the color gamut is better compared to 'standard' LCDs. Sharp sees these displays competing with OLEDs, but they will be a lot cheaper.
So CES 2014 is now over, and one thing is certain - at least in that event, LG is making a much stronger push into OLED TVs than their arch rival Samsung. While Samsung only showed new 55" bendable 4K OLED prototypes, LG showed many prototypes and two new products, including a 77" curved 4K OLED TV that they plan to launch soon for $29,999.
But it seems that it's not just about TVs on display at CES. A Samsung visual-display VP says that there are significant OLED manufacturing issues and they only expect cheap OLED TVs to enter the market in 3 or 4 years. LG on the other hand sees a "rapid shift into OLED TVs". The market will remain small in 2014 (30,000 to 50,000 units) but LG expects the market to ramp up quickly.
A couple of months ago Ignis Innovation announced that they began producing some 55" OLED TV evaluation samples for display makers to test their MaxLife compensation technology. Now the company finally started shipping orders to customers (display makers and OEMs). Ignis hopes that display makers will adopt their technology for TV, mobile and tablet OLED displays.
According to IGNIS, this panel offers the world's lowest power consumption (20% lower than LG and Samsung's current OLED TVs), longest lifetime (a significant boost over existing OLED panels) and their technology can improve production yield and so lower production costs.
Taiwan has a large display industry, but in recent years it seems that it is lagging behind Korea, Japan and China in AMOLED technologies. We asked a local industry expert to check out the three main Taiwanese AMOLED companies (AUO, Innolux and RiTDisplay), and now we post on his updates.
As we reported already, AUO started producing AMOLEDs in their 4.5-Gen fab in Singapore after years of delays. According to our source, AUO is actually only producing samples. Those 5" 720p (295 ppi) panel samples have been been submitted to a company based in China. Earlier reports suggested AUO is going to supply HTC and Sony but it appears these two companies will keep using LCDs for now.
A couple of weeks ago we reported that TCL plans to invest 24.4 billion yuan (just over $4 billion) to build a new 8.5-Gen TV fab in Shenzhen, owned by Shenzhen Huaxing Photoelectric Technology (and not CSOT). This fab (called Huaxing Power Two) will have two lines, one for a-Si LCDs and one for Oxide-TFT (OLED TV and LCD TV, it seems) panels. The Oxide-TFT capacity will be 30,000 monthly substrates.
Now there are reports that the TCL Group announced that the Huaxing Power Two proposal was passed during a recent shareholders meeting. Also it was reported that TCL plans to use the AMOLED line to produce 55" OLED TV panels. It is not clear but it seems that TCL still needs to raise the money for this new fab.