In rapidly changing display industry, metal oxide TFT backplanes are promising

MarketResearchReports.Biz released a new market research report this week entitled “Metal Oxide TFT Backplanes For Displays 2014-2024: Technologies, Forecasts, Players.”

According to the new report, metal oxide display backplanes have already gone commercial. Sharp has invested in establishing a Gen8 IGZO plant at its Kameyama plant in Japan while LG has also selected IGZO backplanes for its large-sized white OLED technology. At the same time, Chinese companies such as BOE are fast playing catch up with both prototype and production capacity announcements.

IDTechEx estimates that 7 km sqr of metal oxide backplanes will be used in the OLED industry in 2024, enabling a 16 billion USD market at the display module level. The LCD display market will add an extra demand of at least 1 km sqr per year in 2024 for metal oxide backplanes.

The display industry continues to rapidly change and seek new markets. Long term trends are still prevalent and shape global activity. Examples include reducing power consumption, improving image resolution, and decreasing device thickness. At the same, the need to differentiate and capture new markets such as wearable electronics is first bringing in robust and then flexible and bendable displays. These trends will drastically affect the technology requirements at many levels including the backplane level. This will stretch several existing solutions beyond likely performance limits, thereby creating openings and opportunities for new entrants and the technology space for backplanes is complex. It consists of (a) mature technologies such as amorphous and polycrystalline silicon, (b) emerging technologies such as organic and metal oxides and (c) early state technologies such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, nanowires, etc. No single technology offers a one-size-fits-all solution and many technologies will co-exist in the market. Betting on the right technology will remain a decision-making nightmare.

It is within this emerging, complex yet changing space that metal oxide are emerging. They promise low leakage currents, high mobility, amorphousity, stability and wide bandgap. These attributes promise to enable, respectively, power consumption reduction, compatibility with current-driven OLEDs and/or 3D displays, image uniformity over large areas, long lifetime and transparency.

In the short term, this will help enable higher resolution and lower power consumption levels in displays including LCDs (particularly in medium- to large-sized displays); while in the medium- to long-term metal oxides will help enable uniform medium- to large-sized OLED displays.

The report specifically addresses the big picture – including OLED displays and lighting, to thin film photovoltaics to flexible sensors and much more. Importantly, it includes not only electronics which are printed, organic and/or flexible now, but it also covers those that will be. Realistic timescales, case studies, existing products and the emergence of new products are given, as are impediments and opportunities for the years to come.

Over 3,000 organizations are pursuing printed, organic, flexible electronics, including printing, electronics, materials and packaging companies. While some of these technologies are in use now – indeed there are three sectors which have created billion dollar markets – others are commercially embryonic.

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