IHS: Apple is developing a new LTPO backplane, may introduce it in future iPhones

IHS posted an interesting article which details a new backplane technology that Apple is developing. So-called Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) combines both LTPS TFTs and Oxide TFTs (IGZO, Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide). LTPO is applicable for both OLED and LCD displays.

Apple LTPO OLED backplane (IHS slide)

In LTPO, the switching circuits are using LTPS while the driving TFTs will use IGZO materials. This could lead to a power saving of around 5-15% compared to the currently-used LTPS backplanes. The main drawback of LTPO, however, is that the IGZO TFTs are larger and so the display density may be compromised. IHS says that Apple may introduce this into future iPhones - but it also says that LTPO will be limited to low-density displays at first which is a bit confusing.

Coherent expects OLED orders to remain weak in 2019, growth to return only in 2020

Photonics-based solutions provider Coherent reported its financial results for Q2 2018. Revenues were $482.3 million and a net income of $67 million. Coherent says that demand for OLED displays remains robust, but market growth remains hindered by pricing and availability.

LTPS laser annealing photo

Coherent sees this as a short-term dynamic, and once OLED producers will be able to compete with Samsung, this will change. Coherent says that 2019 will be another slow year, but investments will return in 2020. Coherent estimates that fiscal 2019 (which ends on September 2019) will likely be down 15% to 20% before recovery starts in fiscal 2020.

Sharp progresses with its OLED plans, converted some of its LCD capacity to OLED production

In January 2018 Sharp's CEO announced that Sharp aims to begin commercial production of flexible OLED displays for its own smartphones in Q1 2018. A new report from Taiwan says that Sharp is progressing with its OLED plans.

Digitimes now says that Sharp has converted some of its capacity at its 4.5-Gen Taki plant from LTPS LCDs to OLED displays. The Taki Plant had a total capacity of 90,000 monthly substrate, and a third of that capacity was converted to OLEDs (but rate will be slower for OLEDs - 22,000 monthly substrates). It is not clear whether Sharp actually started producing OLEDs already.

Google and LGD developed a 1443 PPI 4.3" 120Hz VR AMOLED display

In May 2017, Google announced that it has partnered with "one of the leading OLED makers" to develop a high-end VR display. Google is now set to demonstrate this display at SID 2018 in May.

Google Day Dream VR photo

The new Google-designed display is a 4.3" 18Mp (1443 PPI, probably around 5500x3000 resolution) VR display featuring a refresh rate of 120 Hz. This will be the highest-density OLED display ever (not counting OLED-on-silicon microdisplays). Current VR AMOLEDs in production reach only about 600 PPI.

Coherent sees a strong OLED momentum ahead, says current SDC weakness is temporary

We have many rumors lately regarding Apple's OLED iPhones - mainly that the iPhone X sales are disappointing and Apple is considering discontinuing its 5.8" OLED iPhone range in 2018 and only releasing a larger 6.5" model this year.

LTPS laser annealing photo

Photonics-based solutions provider Coherent reported its financial results for CYQ4 2017 and as Coherent supplies laser equipment for FPD makers, it is usually a good indicator to the OLED market expansion stages. According to Coherent, there has been no real change in the timing of equipment shipments, and the company did not notice any hesitancy among display makers in china regarding the scale up of new OLED fabs. In fact the company says that the "momentum that is behind OLED seems to be quite strong and quite sustainable over a long period of time".

Solar-Tectic developed a new OLED backplane technology to bridge the gap between IGZO and LTPS

US-based Solar-Tectic has launched a new low-temperature OLED backplane technology that could replace LTPS in future high-end mobile OLED displays and bridge the performance gap between IGZO and LTPS.

Solar-Tectic process, called LT1CS (Low temperature single crystal silicon) is a silicon based technology that creates highly oriented c-axis aligned or "textured" silicon crystals. Solar-Tectic says that the performance of LT1CS backplanes will be higher than IGZO performance. The company says that process is similar to SEL's CAAC-IGZO only based on silicon and not IGZO.

CSoT orders OLED deposition equipment from AP Systems for its 6-Gen flexible AMOLED fab in Wuhan

AP Systems announced that it has received orders for OLED deposition equipment from CSoT for the company's 6-Gen flexible AMOLED fab in Wuhan that is currently under construction.

AP Systems ELA system photo

AP Systems said that the whole order is worth $60.65 million and the equipment will be delivered starting in September 2017 until October 2018. AP Systems did not disclose the equipment list, but the company's main products are laser annealing equipment (used to produce LTPS substrates), laser list-off equipment and OLED encapsulation tools.

TianMa starts producing rigid and flexible AMOLED panels at its 6-Gen fab in Wuhan

TianMa Micro-Electronics announced that its 6-Gen LTPS AMOLED fab in Wuhan, China, is now starting to produce panels. This is the first 6-Gen AMOLED line in China to enter production. The new fab will produce both rigid and flexible OLEDs.

5.5-inch AMOLED panel produced at TianMa's 6-Gen AMOLED Fab in WuhanAMOLED panel produced at TianMa 6-Gen fab, Wuhan

According to reports TianMa is focusing on VR and AR devices, wearable devices and foldable devices. Last month TianMa demonstrated three OLED panels - a 5.5" FHD panel, a 5-inch FHD panel and a flexible 5.46" panel, so it's likely that the smartphone market is also in focus.

Samsung's Gen-7 A4 flexible OLED line to be ready by Q2 2018

According to reports from Korea, Samsung has started construction of a new flexible OLED fab, which will be called the A4 line. This will be Samsung's first Gen-7 line as the company is aiming to expand its technology gap over its upcoming OLED competitors who are all building Gen-6 line.

A Gen-7 line substrate is 1870x2200 mm in size - as opposed to 1500x1800 mm for Gen-6. This means that you can produce more displays per substrate and price per screen is lower. Scaling up evaporation OLED production is not so easy, but it seems that Samsung managed to solve its technologies hurdles - mainly the FMM metal masks and the LTPS annealing process.