There are many new frontiers in the display industry
Several major trends have been driving technological innovation in the display industry since its early days. These trends include image quality, screen size, portability and form factor. While these trends still remain strong undercurrents, new drivers are being introduced that will play a more prominent role in shaping the industry.
These new drivers will open up new frontiers, both on the technology and the market side. Indeed, they enable displays to both expand their existing markets and to diversify into new spaces. These major drivers that are set to change the display landscape include product differentiation, flexibility, 3D, transparency, system-on-panel, power savings, interconnectivity and screen size, and new front plane
technologies and more.
Major trends in the industry are changing the backplane functional requirements
Critically, these new trends can only be sustained so long as the underlying technology can deliver the required performance demands. This is critical because the new functional needs will stretch many existing solutions beyond their performance limits, suggesting that alternative solutions will be required. One vital piece of technology that largely sets the limits of display industry is the backplane technology. The backplane is responsible for turning the individual pixels ON and OFF. It is composed of thin film transistors, which act as the switches.
The over-arching trends in the industry are also changing the backplane requirements on several fronts. Product differentiation is resulting in multiplicity of lighting/display technologies, with each demanding a different power output and refresh rate from the backplane. Flexibility is opening up room for a new value chain consisting of new material systems. This is because many existing solutions are failing the flexibility tests, but what is the realistic market opportunity for flexible displays and when?
3D and ultra-high resolution displays mandate higher refresh rates, stretching the switching speed requirements past the capability limits of today's dominant technologies, such as amorphous silicon (aSi) TFTs. System-on-panel thinking is requiring ever more processing power to be integrated onto the panel, and therefore the backplane. Reducing power consumption requires improvements in the entire lifecycle of the display, from reducing the thermal budget during the processing all the way to the more efficient energy use during operation. This will affect how thin film transistors are designed, made and operated.
There is no one size-fits-all-solution
Interestingly, there are already many different backplane technologies that are mature and available, or are fast emerging. These include amorphous silicon, nanocrystalline silicon, low-temperature poly-silicon, solution-processed or evaporated organic semiconductor and various metal oxide thin film transistor technologies. Add to this multiplicity of solutions a range of emerging nano-systems (e.g., various nanowires, graphene, carbon nanotubes) and you will find a decision-making nightmare.
This is because each thin film transistor technology offers a different set of characteristics, suitable for different needs. And yet none offers a one-size-fits-all-solution for all needs. This suggests that, at least initially, many different technologies will co-exist, each rising to satisfy a fragment of the emerging spectrum of needs and thus each occupying a different niche. In addition, some of these options are further advanced than others while others hold great promise. Yet bringing it to market will take time and there are unforeseen technical issues to contend with.
This report makes sense of this changing, fragmented space
This report analyzes major drivers that are shaping the display industry. The major trends examined in detail include product differentiation, size and scaling, power savings, prolonged lifetime, 3D, mechanical flexibility, rimless designs, etc.
The report will then assess how these trends create new functional needs on the technology side. It provides an in-depth review of existing and emerging thin film transistor solutions and critically assesses the pros and cons of each. The technologies covered include various forms of silicon thin film transistors (amorphous, nanostructure and polycrystalline), organic semiconductors, various nanostructured semiconductors and metal oxides.
In terms of metal oxides, it assesses the different material systems available (IGZO, HIZO, IZO, ZNO, TZO, ZnO, etc) and critically assesses the merits of each. In doing so, it outlines and discusses the leading research frontiers in metal oxides science and engineering, including stability and persistent photoconductivity, processing window, p-doping, etc. The report also discusses various requirements of dielectrics for emerging displays and explores the material options for use as dielectrics on wide-bandgap metal-oxide semiconductors.
The report links material properties of all thin film transistor technologies to device figures-of-merit, including mobility, sub-threshold voltage, threshold voltage, stability, contact resistance, etc. These figures-of-merit are then connected to attributes of backplanes and thereby to the emerging functional needs of the display industry as a whole.
Linking the mega trends with micro level technological details, we are able to map out how the fragmented display backplane technology will look going forward.
In our assessment, we also provide a detailed outline of activities in the OLED display segment, including
• An analysis of announced production capacity
• Number of units sold by manufacturer
• Which backplane technologies are used by which manufacturers
• A timeline of venture/partnerships activities taking place across the world in the OLED space.
• Product development cycle for oxide semiconductors
Who should buy this report?
• Major display manufacturers: This report helps major display manufacturers understand how the drivers and the functional needs of the industry are changing. This report will also help them see which technologies will win in which market segments, and why. It will enable them to ensure that they do not lose out when the landscape alters and when parts (or all) of their existing value chain become disrupted.
• Thin film transistor technology licensors and researchers: It will help them identify how the changing display industry will benefit from which thin film transistor technology; helps them pinpoint key research frontiers and questions and therefore design their research programmes; helps them identify target markets and players for licensing their IP assets; helps them know their competitors, etc
• Material suppliers to all thin film transistor technologies: It will help them understand which thin film transistors (and their associated material system) will win in which markets and why. It will help them devise their strategies by backing the right technologies in the right time frames and for the right markets.
• Equipment suppliers: It will help them understand which new technologies will be required and why. As a result, it will help them see which new equipment systems will be required and why. It helps them therefore plan ahead and form the right partnerships or relationships.
• Circuit designers: It will help them see how oxide thin film transistors require new compensation techniques, why and for which market segments (this determines the required performance specification). This effectively highlights a new area of circuit design for companies.