How & Why are QD-OLEDs Being Developed?
There are a diverse range of display technologies available to consumers today, but two specific systems dominate the market: LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes). While LCD-based systems remain the predominating technology for budget-friendly consumer displays, manufacturers have a wealth of tools at their fingertips when it comes to image enhancement and premium features. Among these are quantum dots (QDs).
Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest manufacturer of displays based on LCD technology. They were also among the first-movers in QDTV research and development, founding the term QLED and a subsequent range of premium QLED displays. In March 2020, however, Samsung announced a major pivot towards pioneering QD-OLED technology.
QD-OLEDs represent a paradigm shift away from the LCD vs. OLED competition – but why have Samsung, and other leading display manufacturers, taken this route?
QD-OLED: The Best of Both Worlds
Firstly, innovative QD-OLED systems have the potential to unite the strengths of each technology and yield the greatest picture quality on the market. There are production bottlenecks to overcome, but the theory is tantalizing. Using color conversion layers containing QDs overlaid on a blue OLED backlight could yield displays with perfect colors and lifelike images at high peak brightness with exceptional contrast ratios.
Learn more: What are QD-OLED Displays?
Yet the impetus behind this new drive towards functionalized QD-OLED displays is not solely based on developing the best technology. In fact, many manufacturers are still hard at work on ground-breaking display platforms that would theoretically exceed the performance capabilities of even the most advanced QD-OLED display. We will be discussing some of these in a future article, so be sure to check our blog page for details on QNED and Micro-LED research.
One of the key drivers underlying Samsung’s decision is a market-wide lack of demand for LCD panels. LG Display Co. LTD announced earlier this year that it would no longer produce any LCDs in domestic factories by the end of 2020. Samsung Electronics followed suit with an announcement that all LCD production output from its factories in South Korea and China would cease by 2021. At the same time, Samsung announced a $10.72 billion dollar investment into upgrading the South Korean production line for QD-OLED production. So, how are these QD-OLEDs going to be produced?
Predicting QD-OLED Production
Details are scarce on the fundamental architecture of Samsung Electronics’ new QD-OLED systems but thought leaders have been envisaging prototypical setups based on similar architectures for years.
Samsung Electronics is likely to use a conventional blue OLED array (a substrate bonded to an anode with sequential conductive and emissive layers of organic molecules topped with a cathode and finally a seal) with a thermal buffer as a deposition substrate for inkjet printing red and green QD layers. This is all speculation, and it is worth noting that Samsung has repeatedly downplayed speculation about its commitment to QD-OLED technology. Speaking to TechRadar in 2019, a Samsung spokesperson claimed:
“Samsung Electronics believes various technology improvements should precede for the existing OLED panel technology to be adopted to TVs, and no decision has been made on whether we will adopt the QD-OLED panels to our TVs.”
It is also worth pointing out that the display sector, like many others, is currently feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. How this affects the roadmap to QD-OLED functionalization remains to be seen.