2021-06-14

Apple reportedly developing advanced microOLED & microLED displays

Apple is developing advanced microOLED and microLED display technologies together with TSMC, its chip manufacturing partner, according to a report by Nikkei.    

MicroOLED displays

Apple is currently developing two advanced display technologies at a secretive lab in Longtan District of Taoyuan, Taiwan. The facility is located next to TSMC's existing chip-packaging plant. That is according to Nikkei who claims that Apple's microOLED displays are built directly onto wafers, which would make it possible to use TSMC's existing production equipment. The microOLED project is at the trial production stage so it could still take several years for it to reach mass production. - "Apple is collaborating with its longtime chip supplier TSMC because micro OLED displays are not built on glass substrates like the conventional LCD screens in smartphones and TVs, or OLED displays used in high-end smartphones. Instead, these new displays are built directly onto wafers -- the substrates that semiconductors are fabricated on -- allowing for displays that are far thinner and smaller and use less power, making them more suitable for use in wearable AR devices, according to sources familiar with the projects," the report said. - "Panel players are good at making screens bigger and bigger, but when it comes to thin and light devices like AR glasses, you need a very small screen," a source with direct knowledge of the micro OLED project told Nikkei. "Apple is partnering with TSMC to develop the technology because the chipmaker's expertise is making things ultra-small and good, while Apple is also leveraging panel experts' know-how on display technologies."

MicroLED on 300mm wafer. Photo: Aledia

MicroLED displays

Apple's other project at the Longtan facility is to develop microLED technology. It currently has trial production lines in place, the report said. OLEDs rely on organic material whereas LEDs rely on inorganic material. Samsung and Sony recently announced new large-size microLED displays. However, the challenge with microLED is not to make large screens but to shrink the LED technology enough to make possible small screens, or high pixel density. Sony and BOE are also developing microOLED display technology. Apple acquired LuxVue, a company researching microLED technology, in 2014. Bloomberg first reported on Apple's microLED project in March 2018. Apple reportedly hopes to eventually use the display technologies in Apple Watch, iPad, Macbook, and future AR devices. Both technologies can also be used in TV displays. - Source: Nikkei