microLED Display: The Pros and Cons

microLED Display: The Pros and Cons

microLED is an emerging next-generation display technology for use in television screens and mobile consumer electronic devices. Samsung demonstrated a 146-inch prototype called The Wall during the 2018 Consumer Electronic Shows. Apple Inc. announced in February 2018 that it began developing capabilities to produce this display technology for use in its mobile devices such as the Apple Watch. In 2019, Sony began selling microLED video walls.

But what exactly is microLED? To start off, it involves using microscopic light-emitting diodes or LEDs and fitting them into a single pixel. Earlier prototypes have demonstrated three microscopic LEDs per pixel. The fact that the display panel uses LEDs means that it does not require LED backlighting unlike LCDs. LEDs are self-emissive.

Advantages of microLED Display

One of the primary selling points and thus, advantages of microLED display technology is that it has the positive characteristics of OLED minus the drawbacks associated with shorter lifespan due to screen burn-in and limited luminosity

Below is the summary of its advantages:

  • One key advantage is that is a self-emissive display that does not require backlighting, thus producing a considerably even brightness across the screen.
  • Pixels can be turned on and off individually to produce deep blacks and wider contrast ratio similar to OLED display panels. This is another advantage of microLED compared to LCD.
  • It also allows better color control, produces more accurate image representation, and possibly provide better refresh rate because each pixel can be controlled individually.
  • The general brightness of this display technology is around 4000 nits. However, future iterations can produce a brightness of up to 10000 nits through better engineering.
  • It also has a longer lifespan than OLEDs or in other words, it does not suffer from screen burns due to different degradation rates of pixels.
  • Furthermore, another advantage is that it supports thin panels, thin to zero bezels with wide viewing angles, and modularization to make it a universally applicable display technology.

Disadvantages of microLED Display

Processes and innovations in manufacturing are the primary issues in mass-producing and commercializing microLEDs. It is difficult to shrink the size of light-emitting diodes and reduce the gaps between them. Furthermore, advanced IPS LCD technology based on mini-LED backlighting provides a more practical alternative.

Below is the summary of disadvantages:

  • There are manufacturing challenges needed to overcome to commercialize and produce microLEDs for the mass market and make it more accessible.
  • Another disadvantage if microLED is that costs remain high due to the manufacturing challenges, thus making LCD and OLED technologies more economical.
  • There is also a need to resolve the issue related to pitch size and the introduction of new techniques in circuit design and engineering, as well as overall manufacturing.
  • It is also important to note that consistency in producing millions of microscopic LEDs and assembling them in a single display panel should also be addressed.

FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES

  • Horn, R-H., Chien, H-Y., Trantair, F-G., and Wuu, D-S. 2018. “Fabrication and Study on Red Light Micro-LED Displays.” IEEE Journal of the Electron Devices Society. 6: 1064-1069. DOI: 1109/jeds.2018.2864543
  • Huang, Y., Hsiang, E-L., Deng, M-Y., and Wu, S-T. 2020. “Mini-LED, Micro-LED, and OLED Displays: Present Status and Future Perspectives.” Light: Science & Applications. 9: 105. DOI: 1038/s41377-020-0341-9
  • 2020. “Difference Between Micro-LED and miniLED.” Konsyse. Available online
  • Moore, S. K. 2019. “microLED Displays Expected in 2020: The Last Remaining Hurdle is Mastering Mass Production.” IEEE Spectrum. 56(8): 8-9. DOI: 1109/MSPEC.2019.8784111
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