Epistar Corp (晶電), the nation’s leading LED chip manufacturer, yesterday announced it is taking aim at the growing micro-LED display industry, saying that over the next one to two years the next-generation chips would start to be used in virtual and augmented reality devices and wearables.
“We are confident, as Epistar and Osram Licht AG are the only two companies in the world that are capable of simultaneously producing red, green, and blue LED, an essential capability in the development of self-luminous micro-LED displays,” Epistar chairman Lee Biing-jye (李秉傑) told reporters before the company’s annual general meeting in the Hsinchu Science Park.
Over the next two years, micro-LED technology will start to be used in devices such as wearables and smartphones, while in three to five years it would be employed in larger devices such as TVs, Lee said.
The technology is expected to start generating significant revenue for Epistar in five years because penetration rates and shipments would take time to grow, Lee said.
Epistar is reportedly co-developing the technology with Apple Inc at a plant in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭).
Epistar does not give specific information about its clients, Epistar president M.J. Chou (周銘俊) said, but added that it is collaborating with more than one client to develop micro-LED technology.
The development of micro-LED displays involves epitaxial wafers and chips, mass transfer technology and bonding technology, Chou said, adding that the company’s main focus is on producing the epitaxial products.
Epistar is focusing research and development on the development of mass transfer technology, which is important in the fast and accurate mounting onto a display of large numbers of micro-LED chips, Chou said.
“We think that there is potential for micro-LED technology to become the future of the LED industry if it becomes used in smartphones, because every year around the world tens of millions smartphones are shipped,” Chou said.
He declined to disclose the scale of Epistar’s investment in the technology.
Epistar is positive about the company’s business outlook next quarter on increasing orders for the blue/white LED chips used in lighting products and four-element LED products, Chou said.
Citing clients’ order forecasts, Chou said that overall demand for blue/white LED chips has outstripped supply, but added that the situation might change after Chinese peers expand production capacity in the fourth quarter.
Epistar continues to increase the added-value of its products and improve its product portfolio and operational efficiency in an effort to swing its operations back into the black this year, he said.
Epistar last year reported a net loss of NT$3.54 billion (US$116.18 million at the current exchange rate), or NT$3.33 per share.
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