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MicroLED Displays 2018

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couv flyer microled displays yole july 2018

Technology advances enable a credible cost reduction path toward high volume applications.

MicroLED technology is not ready yet - but is progressing on all fronts.

MicroLED technology could match or exceed OLEDs for most key display attributes. However, it is also an inherently complex technology. Manufacturing a 4K resolution display implies assembling and connecting 25 million microLED chips the size of large bacteria without a single error, with placement accuracy of 1 µm or less.

This challenge alone appears daunting, but many others were still seen as potential showstoppers as recently as early 2017. Eighteen months later, some assembly technologies are delivering close to 99.99% or 99.999% yields, and small die efficiency is approaching or exceeding that of OLEDs. MOCVD reactor suppliers also have credible roadmaps to deliver tools with the capabilities and cost ownership that the industry needs. Color conversion and other aspects are also progressing.

Increasing numbers of companies are demonstrating prototypes. Most are microdisplays on CMOS backplanes but the number of “large” displays prototypes is increasing as well, whether they are using discrete microdrivers like X-Celeprint or thin-film transistor (TFT) backplanes like AUO and Playnitride.

Many are still focusing on realizing their first prototype, but the most advanced have realized that bringing up the technology from the level of functioning demo to consumer-grade products might require more effort than anticipated. Among others, driving microLEDs is more complex than OLEDs and using standard low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) or oxide TFT backplanes might not be as straightforward as expected.

The report presents a comprehensive analysis of all critical technology blocks with a focus on the most recent advancements, emerging options and remaining challenges.


major microled display yield contributors report yole july 2018


Apple is still the best positioned to bring high volume consumer microLEDs to market

Sony’s demonstration of a full HD 55” microLED TV at CES 2012, more than six years ago, was the first exposure for microLED displays and generated a lot of excitement. Since Apple acquired Luxvue in 2014, many leading companies such as Facebook, Google, Samsung, LG or Intel have entered the game via sizable internal developments, acquisitions, like those of mLED and eLux, or investments in startups such as glō or Aledia.

Analyzing Apple’s microLED patent activity shows that the company essentially halted its filing around 2015. This is a surprising finding in the light of the fact that the consumer electronics giant has maintained a large project team and consistently spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually on microLED development. A closer analysis however brought up the name of a possible strawman entity used by Apple to continue filing patents and shows that the company is still advancing key aspects of microLED technologies.

Despite a later start compared to pioneers such as Sony or Sharp, Apple’s portfolio is one of the most complete, comprehensively covering all critical technologies pertinent to microLEDs. The company is the most advanced and still one of the best positioned to bring high volume microLED products to the market. However, it also faces unique challenges:

  • It can’t afford to introduce a product featuring such a highly differentiating technology that is anything but flawless.
  • It requires high volumes, which makes setting up the supply chain more challenging than for any other company.
  • It has no prior experience in display manufacturing and due to its need for secrecy, has to develop pretty much everything internally, duplicating technologies and infrastructures that others have the option to outsource.

The report provides a detailed overview of key players and analysis the challenges associated with setting up an efficient microLED display supply chain, including front end and display assembly.


apple microled patet portfolio displays yole july2018



Dozens of technologies are being developed for microLED assembly and pixel structures. The cost and complexity range can be staggering. However, there are some fundamentals that anchor all those processes. Alignment dominates assembly cycle times, die size can’t get infinitely small, epitaxy cost has already been through a more than 20 years on the cost reduction curve. Cost analysis therefore allows companies to narrow the process parameters down to economically realistic windows and identify efficient cost reduction strategies.

MicroLED companies must understand the cost targets for each application and work backward, making process choices and developing each step so it fits the cost envelope. Processes that can’t deliver the right economics will disappear. If none can deliver the right economics, the opportunity will never materialize. MicroLED is entering the valley of death between technology development and industrialization and commercialization.

As the technology improves, there are credible cost reduction paths for microLED to compete in the high-end segment of various applications such as TV, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and wearables. With the right approaches, assembly cost could become a minor contributor. For smartphones, however, approaching OLED cost implies pushing microLEDs toward what is likely to be the limits of the technology in term of die size. To succeed, microLEDs will have to count on some level of price elasticity. It must deliver performance and features that no other display technology can offer and that are perceived by the consumer as highly differentiating.

Microdisplays for AR and head-up displays (HUD) will be the first commercial applications, followed by smartwatches. TVs and smartphones could follow 3-5 years from now.

The report features a detailed analysis of the contribution of die and assembly costs, looking at factors such as die size, redundancy, yield and assembly strategy for both TV and smartphone applications.


microled displays technology cost reduction path yole july 2018


Objectives of the Report

Understand microLED display technologies:

  • Benefits and drawbacks compared to other display technologies.
  • Key technology bricks and associated challenges, cost drivers.
  • Technology roadblocks.

Which applications could microLED display address and when?

  • Detailed analysis and roadmaps for major display applications.
  • Cost analysis.
  • How disruptive will microLED be for incumbent technologies?

Competitive landscape and supply chain

  • Identify the key players and IP owners in technology development and manufacturing.
  • Scenario for a microLED display supply chain
  • Impact on the LED supply chain
  • Impact on the display supply chain



  • Technology update: recent progress and status on epitaxy, chip manufacturing, microLED efficiency, mechanical, laserbased and self-assembly transfer processes, light management and color conversion
  • Yield and defect management: What are the reasonable targets for microLEDs?
  • Can Thin Film Transistor (TFT) backplanes be used to drive microLED displays? Specific challenges in comparison to OLED displays
  • Cost analysis: Can microLED TV or smartphone display manufacturing costs be compatible with these applications? Which cost reduction paths are realistic?
  • Updated adoption roadmap and volume forecast



Table of contents

Executive summary 10


Introduction to microLED displays 51


MicroLED display manufacturing yields 63


MicroLED epitaxy (FE Level 0) 79


Chip manufacturing and singulation (FE Level 1) 96


MicroLED singulation 97


MicroLED efficiency 104


MicroLED chip manufacturing 112


Transfer and assembly technologies 124


Overview 125


Pick and place processes 129


Continuous/semi-continuous assembly 141


Self assembly 150


Summmary 154


Transfer and assembly equipment 165


Bulk microLED arrays 171














Pixel repair 183


Light extraction and beam shaping 189


Color conversion 204


Backplanes and pixel driving 214


Economics of microLED – cost reduction paths 240


Television 247


Smartphones 265


Applications and markets for microLED displays 277


AR, MR and VR 284


Transfer and assembly technologies 124


Smartwatches 290


Smartphones 294


TVs 301


Others: tablets, laptops, monitors 310


Wafer and equipment forecast 315


Competitive landscape 322


Supply chain 332
































Companies cited

Aixtron (DE)
Aledia (FR)
Allos Semiconductor (DE)
Apple (US)
Columbia University (US)
Cooledge (CA)
Cree (US)
eLux (US)
eMagin (US)
Epistar (TW)
Epson (JP)
Facebook (US)
Foxconn (TW)
Institute (DE)
glō (SE)
GlobalFoundries (US)
Goertek (CN
Google (US)
Hiphoton (TW)
Ignis (CA)
InfiniLED (UK)
Intel (US)
Jay Bird Display (HK)
Kansas State University (US)
Kookmin U. (KR)
Kopin (US)
LightWave Photonics Inc (US)
Lumens (KR)
Lumiode (US)
LuxVue (US)
Metavision (US)
Microsoft (US)
Mikro Mesa (TW)

Nanosys (US)
Nichia (JP)
Nth Degree (US)
NuFlare (JP)
Oculus (US)
Optovate (UK)
Osterhout Design Group (US)
Osram (DE)
Ostendo (US)
PlayNitride (TW)
Rohinni (US)
Saitama University (JP)
Samsung (KR)
Sanan (CN)
SelfArray (US)
Semprius (US)
Smart Equipment Technology (FR)
Seoul Semiconductor (KR)
Sharp (JP)
Sony (JP)
Strathclyde University (UK)
SUSTech (CN)
Sun Yat-sen University (TW)
Sxaymiq Technologies (US)
Tesoro (US)
Texas Tech (US)
Tianma (CN)
Tyndall National Institute (IE)
Uniqarta (US)
U. Of Hong Kong (HK)
U. of Illinois (US)
Veeco (US) 
V-Technology (JP)
VueReal (CA)
Vuzix (US)
X-Celeprint (IE)
And more.


























  • Detailed analysis of MicroLED technologies
  • Key players
  • Intellectual property
  • Supply chain
  • MicroLED die and assembly cost analysis for TVs and smartphones
  • MicroLED display applications: Strength, weakness opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis, roadmap and forecast for TVs, smartphones, wearables, augmented, mixed and virtual reality, laptops, tablets and monitors, plus detailed forecast through 2027
  • Wafer, MOCVD reactor and transfer equipment demand forecast