UBI sees fast growth in Polyimide films and ultra-thin glass for foldable smartphone displays

UBI Research estimates that foldable smartphone display makers will continue to rely on both Ultra-Thin-Glass (UTG) and Colorless Polyimide (CPI) films for at least the next five years.

Foldable UTG and CPI market forecast (2020-2024, UBI)

UBI sees demand for CPI films will reach 4.3 million units in 2020 while demand for UTG will reach 3.5 million units. Demand for both products will grow and by 2024 it will reach 37.1 million units for CPI and 30.5 million for UTG.

Samsung Electronics is looking to develop its own ulta-thin glass cover for foldable smartphones

Samsung Electronics's 2nd foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip, sports an ultra-thin glass cover, which replaced the polyimide one used in its previous foldable, the Galaxy Fold. The UTG glass cover is produced by Korea-based Dowoo Insys, who processes Schott's ultra thin glass.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip photo

According to a new report from Korea, Samsung Electronics wants to develop its own UTG cover, as it feels the Dowoo Insys UTG is still not robust enough and the company also wants to increase production yields and reduce costs. SE is already in talks with several glass suppliers for this project.

Will Samsung's next foldable phone use ultra-thin flexible glass?

Samsung is working on its next foldable phone, which according to leaks will be called the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. According to XDA's Max Weinbach, the new phone will be use ultra-thin flexible glass, instead of polyimide.

Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 - leaked photo December 2019

In November 2019 Samsung indeed signed an exclusive deal with Korea's Dowoo Insys to supply ultra-thin glass (UTG) for future foldable OLED devices. Samsung is aiming to switch to glass as its current foldable OLEDs which are protected by a plastic cover are highly prone for scratching and are very fragile.

Solas files a lawsuit against Apple saying it infringes upon its OLED patents

Ireland-based OLED IP company Solas OLED has filed a lawsuit in the US (Texas) against Apple for patent infringements. The lawsuit mentions three patents (USPTO# 6072450, 7446338 and 7573068) that relate to the OLED stack, structure and circuitry (for example one of the patents relates to the formation of a backplane on a polyimide substrate).

Solas OLED team photo

Apple is of course not the producer of the OLED displays - but Solas says that Apple is accused of "making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing products that infringe the claims" of its patents. Apple's OLED suppliers are Samsung (for the iPhone and MacBook Pro Touch bar devices) and LG Display (for the Apple Watch display).

Korea will invest $6.5 billion to lower its dependence on Japanese imports

The South Korean government says it will spend around $6.5 billion in the next five years to help the local materials, components and equipment sectors and lower its dependence on Japanese imports. This follows Japan's government decision to restrict some material exports, including fluorinated polyimide, to South Korea, following a diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Korea hopes to ensure a stable supply of 100 strategic items (selected from a list of 1,100 industrial items that are imported mostly from Japan) and will assist local R&D activities, lower import barriers and reach out to suppliers in other countries. Korea mostly aims to protect its chips, displays, cars, electronics, equipment and chemicals industries.

PlayNitride shows advanced flexible and transparent Micro-LED displays

PlayNitride demonstrated its latest Micro-LED displays at SID DisplayWeek 2019 - a 7.56" 720x480 (114 PPI) transparent MicroLED, a flexible Micro-LED on a polyimide substrate and a high-brightness, high-resolution passive matrix MicroLED aimed towards wearable applications.

PlayNitride aims to release its first Micro-LED display products by the end of 2019. In 2017 the company started to sample micro-LED panels and shipped samples to 10-20 potential customers.

OLED production in Korea could be halted by the end of July due to Japan's restriction of free exports

A few days ago we reported on Japan's government decision to restrict some material exports, including fluorinated polyimide, to South Korea, following a diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Samsung W2019 photo

Polyimide is required for OLED production, and Japan controls about 90% of the world's production. According to a new report from Korea, Samsung and other companies have warned the Korean government that production in some plants could be halted as early as by the end of July if these materials are not available. It is not clear what is the situation of Samsung's (and LG's) OLED production.

Japan to restrict exports of some materials to Korea, could effect OLED production

Japan's government decided to restrict some material exports to South Korea. The restricted materials are fluorinated polyimide, resist - and high-purity hydrogen fluoride. Japan is the world's leader in production of these materials (about 90% of fluorinated polyimide and resist) which makes it difficult for producers to find alternatives.

These restrictions could mean that both Samsung and LG Display may find it difficult to keep OLED production at its current level. Both companies have accumulated a large stock of these materials, but if these restrictions hold up for a long time this could be a problem for the South Korean OLED makers (and a boon for Chinese OLED makers, of course).

China's first flexible semiconductor industry base project release, has the exclusive technology

The following is a sponsored post by Shaanxi Kuntech Semiconductor Technology

The press conference for the landing and launching of Shaanxi Kuntech Flexible Semiconductor Service Manufacturing Base Project was grandly held in West Fengxi New City, West Xian Xin New District, Shaanxi province on the morning of October 16, with its theme being "Shinning Shaanxi and Shaping the Future World".

Kuntech flexible AMOLED prototype photo

A number of Chinese government leaders, partners from home and abroad, as well as the media attended the event, where the duo direction foldable AMOLED display with internal and external folds developed by the R&D team was also displayed.

Tianma demonstrates its latest foldable, flexible and rigid AMOLEDs at SID 2018

Tianme had an large booth in SID, showcasing many display technologies and demonstrating its latest LCD and OLED panels. Tianma started producing rigid and flexible OLEDS in April 2017 at the company's 6-Gen fab in Wuhan, and at SID the company demonstrated its 5.5" on-cell rigid AMOLEDs now in production. Tianma told us that this display was adopted in smartphones by Lenovo and Asus.

Tianma also demonstrated several flexible OLEDs in many configurations which we will list below. Almost all of the panels were based on the same basic display - a flexible 5.99" WQHD 1440x2280 (537.5 PPI) AMOLED produced on a polyimide substrate. Tianma showed this panel in a regular design, and also in a notch-type design.

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDsCambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDs