Interview with Sri Peruvemba
After Display Week 2022, how would you evaluate the shape of the display industry now, after the Covid-19 pandemic, but also in general. What have you seen there, what are the developments in comparison to previous years?
During the last two years of restricted or almost no travel, a lot has happened in the industry. With fewer distractions like travel and mandatory meetings, the industry has done a lot more to further develop the technology. Display companies have done quite well in introducing newer products and the technologies are advancing quite fast. OLEDs for example is the fastest growing technology in terms of deployment in actual products. And within that segment, if you look at various OLED devices in 2019, it was mostly in phones, and a few high end segments of the TV market also had OLEDs. What has changed in the last two years, and we have seen evidence of that in the show, is that there is much more interest in making OLEDs for wristwatches, tablets and laptops. And even in phones there’s a lot of innovation. Instead of having mobile phones that have a fairly large display that is rigid, we now have flexible OLEDs that can fold and the overall form factor is smaller. The same can be done with a laptop. Today’s laptops have two surfaces: one has the display and the other has the keyboard. The entire thing could be one flexible display that you can fold. And the lower portion of the flexible display can either be used to show some information, or can be used as a touchscreen keyboard. These kinds of innovations are happening and taking OLED to the forefront of new applications.
Another very important thing that is happening in the market as far as OLED is concerned is that companies that were sort of sitting on the wall in terms of investing in next-generation factories are all now committing to very large factories. These will be massive factories that will produce very large quantities of what we call mother glass that could accommodate up to maybe eight, 65-inch OLED TVs. Obviously, they can be used for other applications too. These are very large commitments by display players in Korea, in China and elsewhere. Of course there are companies in Europe and in America that will supply key materials and equipment and so forth, and the whole ecosystem is pretty energised.
How would you describe the comparison of LCD vs OLED in terms of prices?
In the past three decades, several new technologies have attempted to take share from the incumbent, LCD and at best they were relegated to niche markets and most just disappeared. Until OLED. OLED technology offered advantages over LCD in terms of faster response time, larger color gamut, better contrast including true black pixels, but the cost of OLED was and continues to be significantly higher than LCD. But OLED proponents were able to offer a differentiated product and postion themselves as more advanced than LCD – for example the OLED based Smartphones looked better, they were thinner. The OLED TV’s were very thin, the color, contrast and speed of response made the experience better so the market paid a higher price for a better product. OLED was also able to enable flexible displays that hasnt been possible with LCD so we now have foldable phones, we will soon have foldable laptops and tablets. The market will and has been paying more for a feature that it desires. These still leave OLED with the high end of the market that can bear the higher price. But to hit mainstream and take a leadership position against LCD, the OLED cost is the biggest barrier. There are other aspects of OLED that has to also improve, lifetime, image retention, differential aging etc but the industry has found ways around it thus far and newer materials like TADF will help solve some of these issues. LCD is not remaining still, using quantum dots and miniLED backlights, the LCD industry is fighting back and the consumer will continue to benefit from the best technologies at competitive prices.
How does Noctiluca fit into the needs of the display industry?
The fundamental integration of any of these devices in the future is all in the materials. Today there are a handful of companies that are making OLED materials that all go into displays or lighting. There’s always been the desire to produce the next generation, and the next generation and so on, which is normal for pretty much most technologies. Noctiluca, is on a path to build these Generation 3 and Gen 4 materials, which will vastly improve on the current materials’ performance and offer a whole lot of benefits. In general, Noctiluca’s promise is very well received in the market, because this is exactly what the market is looking for, both from the investment community and from OEM customers and panel makers.
During DisplayWeek in San Jose, the largest and best companies in the world were looking for new materials to deploy into their next generation of devices. And Noctiluca met with most of them. There are opportunities to integrate Noctiluca’s TADF materials into the OLED display stack and create much better performing displays. Most companies have a unique and proprietary display stack (OLED displays are made up of several layers of materials) and it is important for both parties to ensure that the emitters and host materials provided by Noctiluca, mesh well with the customers’ display architecture and the end result is a much better display than today’s best in class product. To enable this industry, there is a whole eco-system of materials providers, electronics drivers/IC providers, touch screen providers, the panel makers, the designers and the OEMs that deploy them. Display Week was a good venue to meet with virtually all of them and participate in the movement to take the technology forward. The results shared by Noctiluca, under confidentiality agreements with the industry leaders, resulted in very positive feedback.
What things or trends did you find to be the most interesting? Did anything surprise you? I know it’s difficult to surprise you, because you know it very well, but maybe there was someone who did surprise you, a shining star or a new star?
I am usually impressed with the I-Zone and the participants, because these are technologies, that will be in the market in a few years, you get an early look at whats in the pipeline. But interestingly the larger companies like LG, BOE, Samsung, E Ink, Corning also had some very interesting technologies to demonstrate. And they range from smaller displays to much larger displays that had very impressive performance. They were visually stunning. You always imagine that you’ve seen the best TV and then the next year you see an even better TV. I dont see this trend slowing down.
Are there examples of any devices we haven’t seen yet or solutions we haven’t tested yet, which are already very advanced?
I was impressed to see a 17-inch flexible display, which we had not seen before. It looks exactly like a laptop, but you can fold it. That was very interesting to me. I also saw examples of uniquely shaped displays in car dashboards, rollable and conformable displays. Displays were thinner, a lot thinner but they are not yet in mass production. Once this is achieved I would also imagine that the future TVs will be like a sheet of plastic. That’s where this whole market is going.
Anything you’d like to add as a summary of the event?
One nice thing about the event after two years of doing it virtually is that we now have a hybrid of in-person and virtual. In 2019, we hit a record number of almost 8,000 visitors. This year it was more than 5,000 in person and more than 2,500 virtual. By the time this article is published, we might have set a new record, it’s possible. Noctiluca had a whole bunch of meetings with key companies that are the biggest players on the market. We also saw a lot of people walk into the booth and have conversations, which gives you the opportunity to interact and understand what the customer is doing, but also to pitch your product in a way that resonates with industry audiences. That is an invaluable experience.