Will MicroLEDs revolutionize the display industry?

An article written by Eric VIREY, Ph.D., Senior Market and Technology Analyst at Yole Intelligence (Yole Group) for LED Professional – MicroLEDs promise new generations of displays with improved performance in terms of brightness, energy efficiency, contrast, color gamut, etc. Many companies have shown prototypes in various sizes and performances aimed at a wide variety of applications, ranging from augmented reality to automotive, wearables, televisions, public information displays, etc. The first commercial, consumeroriented microLED displays are coming to market in 2022. Yet, despite all its promises, adoption remains anecdotal. What are the remaining roadblocks preventing more rapid adoption?

MicroLEDs are not to be confused with miniLEDs. There are no rigorous and commonly accepted definitions to distinguish both technologies. Chip size is only one factor. In practice, a combination of size, architecture, manufacturing and assembly technologies, as well as applications, is used to define mini and microLED.

In a nutshell, miniLEDs are much larger and easier to manufacture than microLEDs and don’t require any fundamental technology breakthrough. In terms of applications, on the consumer side, miniLEDs are used to enhance existing Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technologies by enabling better backlights which confer LCD contrast performance closer to that of OLED, allowing the 40+ year old technology to remain relevant and competitive in the high-end segments of the TV, monitor, notebook and tablet markets. In the industrial (nonconsumer) markets, they are used in high definition, high performance, large Direct View LED Displays of the kind often seen in high-end retail shops and shopping malls, movie and TV broadcasting studios, corporate lobbies, or high-end conference rooms.

MicroLED Characteristics

Just like OLED, microLED is a self-emissive display technology in which each individual red, green, and blue sub-pixel is an independently controllable light source: a tiny LED chip less than 50 µm in size, ideally less than 10 µm for consumer applications. Like OLEDs, microLED displays offer high contrast, high switching speed, and wide viewing angles. They could also deliver a wider color gamut, much higher brightness, significantly reduced power consumption, improved lifetime, ruggedness, and environmental stability. MicroLEDs also allow for the integration of sensors and circuits within the pixels, enabling thin displays with various embedded sensing capabilities, such as local brightness measurement, fingerprint scanning, in-display camera, touch function, gesture control, and more. Finally, unlike OLED which requires encapsulation to protect the fragile organic materials from air and moisture, and LCD which requires a seal for the liquid crystal, microLED is the only display technology allowing the production of bezel-less displays. This not only allows for elegant, nearly 100% screen-to-body ratio devices but opens the door for seamless, modular displays of virtually any size that could be assembled from smaller modules.

Read more here (page 46).