MicroLED: The first advance in LED technology for a decade

Bringing the world into even higher resolution with brighter, more realistic images, MicroLED will create screen displays we didn’t think possible.

But what is a Micro-LED?

To put it simply, MicroLED takes traditional LEDs and shrinks them down to a microscopic level.

In 2018 Samsung launched the world’s first consumer modular MicroLED TV at its annual event: First Look CES. Named ‘The Wall’, the TV is 146 inches and showcases MicroLED’s self-emitting bulbs to create a display that has improved energy efficiency as well as enhanced contrast and response times.

Compared to an LCD display, a MicroLED is much simpler, as the LEDs themselves emit the light and can be individually controlled. This results in displays that offer a much better image quality and are highly efficient too, as there are no filters as in LCDs. As opposed to LCDs, MicroLEDs can be made flexible.

MicroLED is a display technology that is based on tiny (hence, micro) LED devices that are used to directly create colour pixels. MicroLED displays have the potential to create highly efficient, beautiful and flexible displays, to challenge the current high-end OLED displays.  

OLEDs use tiny sub-pixels made from organic emissive materials; MicroLEDs, in contrast, use an inorganic LED structure. This means that MicroLEDs can be far more efficient, bright and durable.

 

How was the MicroLED developed?

So why is the development of MicroLED technology taking time? The difficulties lie within the manufacturing process.

MicroLEDs were developed in order to create brighter, more refined images on screen, which involves shrinking the size of the tiny LED bulbs that make up the screen and the gaps between them (i.e. decreasing the pixel pitch). But narrowing the pixel pitch comes with manufacturing hurdles. Firstly, shrinking the LED bulbs lessens the amount of light each one emits. This means that you either need to drive them harder or increase their efficiency.

Secondly, the cost of manufacturing such screens increases dramatically due to the increased number of LEDs needed in order to create a larger screen. For a standard 55-inch TV panel, you’re looking at millions of MicroLEDs that need to be placed perfectly. Misalignment can lead to uneven lighting and colours, so until manufacturers can cross this hurdle, we likely won’t see this technology in the mainstream.

 

What are the benefits of the MicroLED?

There are a wealth of different benefits that MicroLED could have in comparison to other screen technologies given its composition.

MicroLEDs are based on well-established LED devices, which means that it could potentially be a technology that is relatively easy to scale up. The modularity of MicroLED makes it easier to scale the size of the displays. Current technology uses different size pixels for different screen sizes. Whereas MicroLED could simply add more pixels of the same size to make a larger, more high-resolution screen.

MicroLED screens produce brighter images than the commonly used OLED, but with the same ability to turn off each pixel, for a similarly perfect black. This would therefore produce a crisper, more realistic image.

Lastly, the longevity of a MicroLED will surpass that of current screen technology. As the LED bulbs are self-emitting, unlike an OLED, they last longer and don’t degrade over time. The OLED uses an organic compound that decays gradually and doesn’t last forever. Therefore, a MicroLED screen’s lifespan is far longer than that of our current screens.

 

So how long are we going to have to wait until the MicroLED hits the market?

The biggest companies in technology hardware are moving forward with the idea. It is also likely to hold a very high price point. So, keep an eye out for this future technology. Whilst still very much in its early stages, it is undoubtedly an exciting technology.  

Though given manufacturing cost we’re likely to see it in small technologies like smartphones and wearables initially (it has been reported to have been successfully used with the Apple Smartwatch in Taiwan). However it could be a while until we see MicroLED used on billboard screen scale.

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MicroLED: The first advance in LED technology for a decade

Bringing the world into even higher resolution with brighter, more realistic images, MicroLED will create screen displays we didn’t think possible.

But what is a Micro-LED?

To put it simply, MicroLED takes traditional LEDs and shrinks them down to a microscopic level.

In 2018 Samsung launched the world’s first consumer modular MicroLED TV at its annual event: First Look CES. Named ‘The Wall’, the TV is 146 inches and showcases MicroLED’s self-emitting bulbs to create a display that has improved energy efficiency as well as enhanced contrast and response times.

Compared to an LCD display, a MicroLED is much simpler, as the LEDs themselves emit the light and can be individually controlled. This results in displays that offer a much better image quality and are highly efficient too, as there are no filters as in LCDs. As opposed to LCDs, MicroLEDs can be made flexible.

MicroLED is a display technology that is based on tiny (hence, micro) LED devices that are used to directly create colour pixels. MicroLED displays have the potential to create highly efficient, beautiful and flexible displays, to challenge the current high-end OLED displays.  

OLEDs use tiny sub-pixels made from organic emissive materials; MicroLEDs, in contrast, use an inorganic LED structure. This means that MicroLEDs can be far more efficient, bright and durable.

 

How was the MicroLED developed?

So why is the development of MicroLED technology taking time? The difficulties lie within the manufacturing process.

MicroLEDs were developed in order to create brighter, more refined images on screen, which involves shrinking the size of the tiny LED bulbs that make up the screen and the gaps between them (i.e. decreasing the pixel pitch). But narrowing the pixel pitch comes with manufacturing hurdles. Firstly, shrinking the LED bulbs lessens the amount of light each one emits. This means that you either need to drive them harder or increase their efficiency.

Secondly, the cost of manufacturing such screens increases dramatically due to the increased number of LEDs needed in order to create a larger screen. For a standard 55-inch TV panel, you’re looking at millions of MicroLEDs that need to be placed perfectly. Misalignment can lead to uneven lighting and colours, so until manufacturers can cross this hurdle, we likely won’t see this technology in the mainstream.

 

What are the benefits of the MicroLED?

There are a wealth of different benefits that MicroLED could have in comparison to other screen technologies given its composition.

MicroLEDs are based on well-established LED devices, which means that it could potentially be a technology that is relatively easy to scale up. The modularity of MicroLED makes it easier to scale the size of the displays. Current technology uses different size pixels for different screen sizes. Whereas MicroLED could simply add more pixels of the same size to make a larger, more high-resolution screen.

MicroLED screens produce brighter images than the commonly used OLED, but with the same ability to turn off each pixel, for a similarly perfect black. This would therefore produce a crisper, more realistic image.

Lastly, the longevity of a MicroLED will surpass that of current screen technology. As the LED bulbs are self-emitting, unlike an OLED, they last longer and don’t degrade over time. The OLED uses an organic compound that decays gradually and doesn’t last forever. Therefore, a MicroLED screen’s lifespan is far longer than that of our current screens.

 

So how long are we going to have to wait until the MicroLED hits the market?

The biggest companies in technology hardware are moving forward with the idea. It is also likely to hold a very high price point. So, keep an eye out for this future technology. Whilst still very much in its early stages, it is undoubtedly an exciting technology.  

Though given manufacturing cost we’re likely to see it in small technologies like smartphones and wearables initially (it has been reported to have been successfully used with the Apple Smartwatch in Taiwan). However it could be a while until we see MicroLED used on billboard screen scale.

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Similar in style and user objectives, television and out-of-home (OOH) advertising have long been rivals. But with both channels having experienced extensive disruption in the last decade, which one has prevailed against the digital tidal wave?

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