LED technology laid the foundation for high-quality colour-intensive video walls and LCD screens. It was followed by OLED technology offering high colour contrast, wider viewing angles, and flexible designs. Today, the increasing volume of data creates the need to display as much information as possible in the smallest possible space, in real time and in the highest quality. MicroLED technology is expected to meet the demands of the display industry, promising exceptionally brilliant colours at very low power consumption, very high brightness and resolution, great reliability, fast response times, and flexibility.
Furthermore, microLEDs are not sensitive to oxygen and moisture and therefore, no encapsulation is needed. This enhances their ability to be manufactured into smaller modules.
MicroLEDs have another major trick up their sleeve when compared to LCD technology. Being modular, with each individual LED able to emit light and be individually controlled, allows them to be manufactured into flexible displays.
ams OSRAM is in a unique position as it offers application and product expertise in LEDs, sensors, and drivers. Julia Halasz, head of the displays business line, says: “MicroLED displays are based on tiny LED devices that are used to directly generate the individual pixels. Each of these pixels consists of individual red, green and blue LEDs as independently controllable sub-pixels.”
MicroLEDs today have an edge length of about 50 µm. ams OSRAM is focusing on chip edge lengths of 10µm and less as it believes that this will be the disruptive component in the market. To put this into perspective, there is enough space on a 1-euro coin for more than four million microLEDs!
Halasz adds: “In addition to their brilliant colours and all the benefits already mentioned, microLED-based displays have the potential to integrate sensors and infrared LEDs to enable touch, brightness and motion sensing. Some of those features are already available and mounted behind OLED displays, and this is particularly interesting for future developments in smartphones and wearables.”
To provide the promise of high image quality, brilliant colours and good readability even in bright sunlight, the technology needs to offer a wide colour gamut, high contrast, wide viewing angles, high pixel density, and fast refresh rates. These are the specifications that microLEDs can provide.
Energy efficiency is of course also an important consideration and as microLED displays only draw power for lit pixels, their system efficiency is high. This could result in significantly lower power consumption and longer battery life.
MicroLED displays are both durable and robust, and are therefore also suited to automotive applications which have demanding conditions including extreme temperatures and humidity. Like their bigger brothers, microLEDs also enable modular, seamless designs. This will pave the way to large borderless interactive wall displays.
MicroLED technology will disrupt the display market, promising to herald in a new age of high-resolution, vibrant, and robust displays.
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