China Leaps Into the Future With Next-Generation Displays
Optoelectronic suppliers from China have formed strategic partnerships to launch new displays that are based on the most recent technologies.
China is known primarily for its manufacturing capabilities and not its R&D ability. A few display companies have begun to change this.
Suppliers such as Beijing Visionox Technology Co. Ltd. and Beijing Phoebus Vision Optoelectronics Technology Co. Ltd. have been able to develop core technologies to produce new displays by working with top universities and research institutes in China. Several other companies, such as China Display Technology Co. Ltd, Truly Semiconductors Ltd, and Changhong have also been able to achieve the same feat without research partnerships.
Beijing Phoebus Vision claims it is the first Chinese manufacturer to dedicate R&D to laser displays. This includes source modules for TVs, projectors, and 3D cinema solutions. With around 110 patents, it is the second-largest owner of laser display patents worldwide.
Beijing Visionox Technology Co. Ltd is meanwhile the first Chinese company to have a manufacturing line for PMOLED panels. The annual yield stands at 12 million 1in discussions. The company was the fourth-largest global supplier of PMOLED in Q4 2009. It is now second only to display, Pioneer and TDK. It now wants to expand its success in the AMOLED market, where Samsung currently holds a greater than 90% share of global shipments.
Changhong, a consumer electronics manufacturer and appliance maker, is also entering the OLED market. The company formed Sichuan CCO Display Technology Co. Ltd with Chengdu Hi-Tech Investment Group. This joint venture will focus on OLED production. The PMOLED trial line has been operational since April. It is expected to produce 120 million 1in panels annually. Since late 2009, an AMOLED line has been under construction.
Changhong has filed for over 170 OLED patents as of April 2010. This includes 34 foreign ones. The patents cover OLED materials, device structure, and driving circuit, manufacturing process, and OLED materials. It also has 2.6- to 7.6in AMOLED demo panels.
Capacitive touchscreen technology has also been influenced by the popularity of Apple’s mobile electronics, such as the iPad. As 7-inch and more prominent displays become more in demand, this is a good thing. China Display Technology Co. Ltd, recognizing the potential growth in this segment, developed its own version 3-7in capacitive touchscreen displays in 2009 for mobile phones, GPS devices, and other electronic gadgets. In March 2010, midsize panels were made for laptops measuring between 10.1 and 15.6in.
The popularity of 3D displays is driving growth in the 3D glasses market. Honestly, Semiconductors Ltd spent four years developing lenses for 3D glass. Since then, four patents have been awarded. The company opened its Guangdong 3D glasses factory with two production lines in July. The company plans to produce 120 million 3D lenses annually.
Technology partnerships bolster R&D
Beijing Phoebus Vision is a product of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Optoelectronics. This institute is the country’s leading development center in the field. Bi Yong, the company’s chief engineer, was a CAS graduate, while its chief scientist came from the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Beijing Phoebus Vision was also authorized by the CAS to use ten core laser technology patents from the latter as a basis for product development. In addition, the company employs more than 80 percent of its 200 employees in R&D or have technical backgrounds, which is a departure from typical manufacturers.
Beijing Phoebus Vision also belongs to the Laser Display Industry Innovation Alliance. This alliance was established in mid-2009 to bring together downstream and up-supplier suppliers. The company has partnered with several manufacturers of laser displays that can be mass-produced.
Beijing Visionox’s success in the PMOLED segment was six years after it launched its pilot line in 2002. This partnership was made with Tsinghua University in China, one of the nation’s most prestigious science and engineering institutions. The university developed OLED technology, which was used in the collaboration that resulted in 228 IPR applications. Thirty-nine patients have been granted. Ninety patients have been given to date.
Beijing Visionox established Kunshan New Flat Panel Display Technology Center Co. Ltd in June 2010. This was the first pilot production line for AMOLEDs in mainland China. It is a joint venture with Kunshan Industrial Technology Research Institute. In the first phase of production, the JV plans to release AMOLED panels measuring 3-12in size and 12-17in in the second.
This new company was created in response to the growing demand for display panels worldwide. Many manufacturers have been forced to speed up AMOLED production due to supply shortages. Chimei Innolux in Taiwan, for example, announced that it would begin mass production of AMOLED panels for mobile phone devices in Q3 2010.
Beijing Visionox plans to develop large-screen AMOLED lines that can be mass-produced in the next two to three years. It is currently developing downstream lines, such as OLED lighting. The company hopes to release these models in the same timeframe. Recently, the company formed a strategic partnership with Hong Kong’s Solomon Systech. This partnership will allow for the development of AMOLED-based lighting products.
Kunshan New Flat Panel Display Technology Center also collaborates with Taiwan’s AU Optronics. They launched 2.4in AMOLED demo panels with 240×330 Pixels, a 10,000-to-1 contrast ratio, and a viewing angle of more than 170 degrees. These displays include electron-transport layer materials from Beijing Visionox, Tsinghua, and TFT substrates of AUO.
Laser displays domestically on par with foreign models.
Lasers are being touted as the next generation of display technology, especially for large screens and 3D panels. Because of their more excellent color range, lasers are a popular choice. The best LED-backlit LCDs can display 62 percent of what the human eye can see. In contrast, laser displays render 90 percent.
Many international display companies such as Epson, Mitsubishi, Epson, and Samsung have started to develop their own laser panels. China’s displays perform well when compared to theirs. The color range of Beijing Phoebus Vision models is only 210 percent below that of Sony’s 214.4%, but the coverage rate at 67 percent is the same. The electrical-optical efficiency for Beijing Phoebus Vision’s panels is lower at 2.7 percentage points than Sony’s 238lm/W, but the flux efficiency is much higher at 270lm/W.
The company is currently building capacity for mass production and expects to have scaled output in 2012. Two factories are now under construction, one in Nanjing in Jiangsu and the second in Caofeidian New Area, Tangshan in Hebei province. Construction of the second stage is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The structure of a laser display center in Beijing is also underway.
Aimee Ocampo, the managing editor of Global Sources, wrote this article initially for the company. Global Sources is a major business-to-business media firm and a key facilitator of trade with China suppliers and manufacturers. We provide essential sourcing information to volume purchasers through our magazines and trade shows, as well as industry research.