Samsung Electronics to apply LTPS TFT for smaller Micro LED TV models
Samsung Electronics says it could buy QD-OLED from Samsung Display in return
Samsung Display was considering manufacturing thin-film transistors (TFT) that will be used in Micro LED TVs made by Samsung Electronics, TheElec has learned.
The South Korean display maker has formed a team to oversee the project, sources said. This team was formed in April and the project is called the “M Project”. M stands for Micro LED.
Samsung Display’s is doing so following Samsung Electronics’ request. The South Korean tech giant’s TV business, called Visual Display Business by the firm, had made a request to Samsung Display early in the year to manufacture low-temperature polycrystalline (LTPS) TFT for Micro LED.
TFT acts as a switch that turns the pixel on and off on the display. Samsung had used printed circuit boards (PCB) for its previous Micro LED TVs that exceed 100-inch in size.
However, the tech giant is planning to apply LTPS TFT for the smaller Micro LED TV models.
This is because smaller TV models mean they will use even smaller LEDs that are more tightly packed together. Use of LTPS TFT will allow for a micro circuit design that can control these smaller LEDs individually. This is difficult to do with circuits on a conventional PCB.
Samsung Display will be manufacturing the LTPS TFT at its A1 line (Gen 4, 730x930mm) at its Cheonan plant. A1 previously manufactured LTPS TFT rigid OLED panels. But Samsung Display currently manufactures rigid OLED panels at its A2 line (Gen 6, 1500x1850mm), which is more productive. As of the first half of 2021, A1’s operation rate was in the single digits, the sources said.
Using A1’s Gen 4.5 substrate will result in 12 to 16 modules of 9.7-inch Micro LED modules. Samsung currently assembles its Micro LED TVs using these 9.7-inch Micro LED modules. A1 currently has a capacity of 55,000 substrates per month.
For the Micro LED LTPS TFT production process, a total of 24 masks are expected to be needed, the sources said. This is because it will have a lot of transistors and circuits. Conventionally, for a Gen 6 OLED substrate, 11 to 12 masks are used. More masks means the production process is more sophisticated.
Samsung Electronics’ request to Samsung Display was done at the same time when it was asking its display making subsidiary to extend the production of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, the sources said.
Initially, Samsung Electronics had requested to Taiwan’s AUO to make the LTPS TFT is needs for Micro LED. However, Samsung Electronics determined that it will be difficult to control a steady supply of the TFT from this deal, and has changed tack to ask Samsung Display instead.
Also, Samsung Electronics have told Samsung Display at the same time that it was more open to receiving supply of quantum dot (QD)-OLED panels that Samsung Display was developing. This makes the offer difficult for Samsung Display to refuse as it needs customers for its QD-OLED, which it is currently close to commercially producing.
Meanwhile, Micro LED TVs use micrometer sized LEDs as the light source. Samsung launched its first in 2018, calling its first 146-inch model that uses the technology The Wall. Last year, it launched 110-inch version aimed the home market.
Samsung is expected to ship around 400 to 500 units of Micro LED TVs this year, the sources said. This is 0.001% of the 49.27 million units of TVs it shipped last year.