MiniLED was the evolution of LED, MicroLED is the revolution.
MicroLED is a new form of self-emissive direct-view display technology. These displays are made up of non-organic microscopic LEDs that are sealed inside the display surface. Similar to OLED, each pixel is self-illuminating.
How does MicroLED compare to other display technologies? This upgrade in technology represents a revolution in display technology, unlocking previously unattainable performance and benefits. As each pixel in the display is its own light source, it is able to turn on or off as required. MicroLED provides a stronger contrast and isn’t just a darker shade of black but offers true black.
Since the technology in the LEDs used is non-organic, the risk of burn-in is reduced with MicroLED displays. This increases lifespan and makes the displays extremely energy efficient.
When new technology enters into the market claiming to be a revolution, expectations are set high and need to be met. With MicroLED, there are a handful of benefits to this technology.
There are several advantages to MicroLED, including that MicroLED displays are thinner. OLED displays feature cover glass, circular polarizer, transport encapsulation and backplane, whereas MicroLED displays do not have a polarising or an encapsulation layer. Removing these two layers in manufacturing, not only improves the display by making it thinner but also makes it a greener technology. The way MicroLEDs are made they use significantly less power. 90% less power is used in a MicroLED display than in an LCD and 50% less power than OLED displays.
Each pixel in MicroLED displays is self-emissive, this means there is no backlight powering the pixels like in an LED LCD. When a pixel is displaying black content on a MicroLED display, it isn’t just a darker shade of back but instead, there is no light and the MicroLED pixel is turned off offering true black. These displays provide an incredible contrast achieving 80% higher contrast when compared to SMD LED displays.
It is not only darker darks that are achieved with MicroLED displays, but also brighter whites. The dark surface coating material allows for higher black levels, whilst the anti-reflective coating lowers the surface light reflectivity and increases the highest peak brightness levels.
Whilst the myth that too much TV will turn your eyes square isn’t true, eye fatigue is a real health concern that is common with most displays.
MicroLED offers more eye comfort than other displays, which is achieved through the MicroLED surface light, a flat light distribution. There is a wider dispersion of light from the display that is less concentrated resulting in a more comfortable viewing experience for a longer period of time.
Comparing this viewing experience to other LED displays, such as SMD LED displays which offer point light, viewers favour MicroLED for comfort. The point light is a concentrated light distribution, which is of higher intensity and can be uncomfortable during long viewing times.
One main benefit of MicroLED displays is that they offer higher brightness whilst consuming less power and providing a more energy-efficient solution. When comparing MicroLED pixels to OLED emitters, they are considerably more efficient. It isn’t just in the pixels themselves where these displays save power consumption, the entire displays themselves save energy. Quite a lot of energy is lost when driving the display rather than in the pixels themselves.
MicroLED displays promise a truly colourful future. The colour wavelengths on a MicroLED are narrower than on other displays resulting in higher colour purity. This also lends to a wider colour gamut, all of which means that images displayed are more realistic and lifelike.
Unlike LCD or OLED displays, MicroLED pixels are not expected to fade over time, they are meant to keep going for up to 100,000 hours.
There are many factors that enable this extended lifespan, the main being that the non-organic LED pixels don’t experience burn-in. The heat produced by a MicroLED display is much cooler than other displays, this results in lower pixel failure. The heat produced is able to dissipate through the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) as the LEDs are bonded directly to the display backplane.
Alongside MicroLED offering a longer lifespan, they will likely require less maintenance at that time. Black seal technology offers pixel protection with a sealed surface, this protects against electrostatic discharge, humidity, water, dust, or physical impact.
MicroLED technology breaks free from traditional SMD and COB limitations by utilising flip-chip LED technology. Flip-chip LEDs eliminate the wire bond, by placing the electronic contact underneath the LED chip between the chip and display backplane. MicroLED combines flip-chip technology with microscopic LEDs sealed in the display surface, protecting the pixel from physical impact, maximising optical performance, and significantly increasing contrast ratios.
MicroLED brings a new era of ultra-fine pitch, ultra-high-resolution, ultra-high contrast MicroLED display possibilities to the LED video wall display market.
Challenges with MicroLED
The main challenges with MicroLED come with the cost, as with any new technology, economies of scale and production yield impact price-performance ratios.
Although MicroLED was introduced back in 2012, it took until 2017 for the first commercially available display to land in stores, with Samsung’s The Wall. Before, MicroLED went from a research and development trade-show sample, with astronomical pricing, to a commercially viable proposition that delivers next-generation technology.
Reducing LEDs to microscopic size and accurately placing millions of them onto the display surface is a compelling challenge. Achieving this whilst maintaining colour uniformity and eliminating pixel failure is an even larger one. Advances in flip-chip LED technology made by Samsung have enabled the launch of MicroLED video wall displays lightyears ahead of poor performing face-up COB (chip-on-board) LED displays. These displays not only reduce pixel size but also outperform traditional SMD LED displays in a number of key areas, including higher resolutions, increased contrast and reduced viewable distance.
Surface coating is critical to prevent reflectivity and poor contrast, whilst maintaining black uniformity across the entire display surface.
Breaking free from the 1mm pixel pitch barrier has improved the quality of displays available on the market. As the price decreases, we can expect to see this technology in multiple industries. MicroLED technology breaks free from the bottlenecks of traditional SMD LED and offers unrivalled displays enhancing content shown to the next level.
The offered eye-comfort that comes with a MicroLED display will lend itself to corporate uses in meeting spaces and reception areas. As this is a modular technology, installs are flexible, offering the ability to customise the display to a variety of sizes and designs. Rather than choosing a display to fit your room, you can adapt the display to work how you want.
Digital signage has taken over the retail space, making it increasingly difficult to stand out and look unique. Delivering memorable content helps illuminate the value of your business which is paramount in an ever-competitive industry like retail.
Retail displays not only need to stand out on the high-street, but they also need to accurately advertise the products displayed. MicroLED technology offers accurate colours that result in more lifelike images with greater detail, meaning that products shown are a better representation of those in the store.
The surface coating offered on MicroLED screens mean that these displays these displays have a higher optical fill factor, making it easier to avoid moiré effect on camera.
Moire patterns can be damaging in video, as they create strange-looking wavy patterns from displays rather than accurately recording their content. These patterns not only look unprofessional, but they can also distract from other content being recorded. MicroLED reduces the headache caused by moiré patterns, regardless of camera angles or positions. These displays also bloom in broadcast situations because they minimise reflection from studio lights and their true colour match creates vibrant displays which can be used as backdrops or visual aids.
Transport environments utilise large displays to display a variety of information from advertisements and wayfinding to news and live transport updates. Displays in these environments need to be large enough to see from across the terminal or stations, as well as bright and clear colours so that information is easy to read.
With bright, colourful displays offered by MicroLED technology, visitors can read the display from a variety of angles, much wider than other displays offer. The sealed surface also offers environmental protection which reduces disruptions caused by technical maintenance.
Command and control centres often require many employees to be looking at large screens for long periods of the day. Monitors and small format displays use flicker-free and anti-blue tones technology to prevent eye damage and vision from being affected over time. However, this technology has not been previously available on large format displays. MicroLED has increased eye comfort which means employees in the command-and-control centres can work ergonomically and without worry.
Residential displays have been restricted to a certain size with LCD and OLED technology, which greatly prevented displays exceeding the 100” mark. MicroLED offers a supersize option that can be custom-built to any environment. It can be used as an ambient display for digital art/wallpaper as there is no risk of burn-in. The high brightness of these displays also mean they work in any light environment.
MicroLED boomed onto the market providing an improved user experience from OLED. Whilst the consumer TV market has seen many evolutions in the past couple of years, with traditional LCD, OLED evolving into new flavours such as QLED, QNED and MiniLED. MicroLED is a completely new platform representing a revolution in display technology. Unlocking previously unattainable performance and benefits.
Since MicroLED uses non-organic LEDs, unlike organic LEDs used in OLED displays, it can produce significantly higher brightness, with a longer lifespan and virtually no risk of burn-in. MicroLED offers all the benefits of OLED; self-emissive displays with high contrast and fast response times.
MicroLED VS LCD
Comparing MicroLED to LCD there is a clear winner. Traditional LCD displays are backlit which means they are unable to compete with contrast or response time. Alongside the benefits of OLED, MicroLED also offers all the stability of LCD with long lifespans and high brightness from non-organic LEDs.
During the 2020 pandemic, display technologies were used in industries that previously hadn’t seen a need. These displays helped promote social distancing messaging including people counts, wayfinding and reminders to keep 2m apart. As opposed to traditional signage, commercial displays can be updated to feature live information. With this need imposed by the coronavirus, the benefits of digital signage were highlighted to many industries.
As more industries look for long term solutions to their commercial display needs, they will look for the newest displays that are going to offer the most for their businesses long-term. MicroLED displays are leading the way in commercial displays, with businesses favouring their low energy consumption and quick response time, as well as their wide viewing angle and high contract in every lighting situation. It is estimated that in just a couple of years, 2022, the revenue of MicroLED will reach US$1.38 billion.
MicroLED displays include many technologies and processes, such as epitaxy, photolithography, chip fabrication, substrate removal, inspection, mass transfer, bonding and interconnection, testing, repair, backplane and drive IC, etc. This has been the main technical obstacle to be solved for MicroLED as manufacturing was challenging, however as more of these displays enter the market, manufacturing will become cheaper and easier.
SMD LED displays have their pixels packaged and soldered to the surface, this technology can be difficult to scale to the size that increasingly people are wanting for their displays.
“As people’s demand for resolution and larger screens is getting higher and higher, businesses are seeking displays solutions well over 100”. Whether it is in retail, corporate, education or healthcare, we are seeing a demand for large displays.” – Liam Winter, Head of LED at PSCo
There are two obstacles that need to be overcome for SMD to stay the leader in LED technology, the first is the limited capabilities of anti-collision LED lamps which make up most SMD displays. The second obstacle is that SMD LED cannot keep up with the rapid evolution of resolution. For example, in the space of merely a couple of years, we have gone from 4K to 8K. The requirement for sharpness from displays is increasing and SMD simply cannot keep up.
MicroLED displays have transformed SMD, with their pixels sealed in the surface, this allows the MicroLED displays to perform at higher energy efficiency, the LED pixels are also protected from air, dust and cleaning agents.
Samsung was the first to market MicroLED displays with The Wall, a solution that elevates consumer and commercial environments. This super-sized bespoke display is built to the specifications of the environment and displays bold and stunning visuals.
The Wall is a modular LED display that lets you decide the size and shape of your screen. It is easy to use with a single one-touch remote for simple functions and a tablet remote for more complex functions.
Samsung’s revolutionary Black Seal technology, the first in a MicroLED display, produces pure blacks for unparalleled contrast and vibrant colours for true-to-life images. Samsung’s exclusive Dynamic Peaking technology adjusts peak brightness and contrast scene-by-scene for precise image expression. Featuring Samsung powerful Quantum Processor Flex AI upscaling engine and market-first Multi-Link HDR technology, The Wall MicroLED delivers a one-of-a-kind visual experience
Midwich’s Technology Xposed 2019, saw the first UK showing of Samsung’s The Wall. This display builds on the success of the market-leading IF series, combining innovative LED HDR technology with cutting-edge micro size colour-enhancing LED chips for an incredibly true-to-life visual experience.
“The Wall represents a defining moment, as we enter a new era of MicroLED display technologies that are set to completely re-shape the display market as we know it.” - Liam Winter, Head of LED at PSCo
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