Analysis of Micro LED automotive application prospects: “Packaging” all current LCD and OLED scenarios?
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Analysis of Micro LED automotive application prospects: “Packaging” all current LCD and OLED scenarios?

Posted Date: 2024-01-23

Electronic Enthusiast Network reports (Text/Wu Zipeng) At this year’s CES 2024, Micro LED once again became one of the highlight technologies promoted by manufacturers. Among them, Continental showed the Crystal Central Display. As the world's first luxury car display embedded in a stylish crystal casing, it integrates minimalist luxury into the car interior with its frameless and translucent appearance. This product won the won the CES Innovation Award.

Source: Continental


Dr. Boris Mergell, head of Continental's User Experience Business Group, said: "With the crystal central display, Continental hopes to subvert traditional car interior design and create innovative highlights for future luxury cars - to attract users' attention and arouse emotional resonance. . We are changing the way information is displayed on the display and taking personalized user experience to a new level."

In addition to Continental, Innolux subsidiary CarUX also demonstrated automotive-grade Micro LED technology. Innolux pointed out that CarUX uses Innolux's unique Micro LED COB (Chip on Board) to develop a "Micro LED car display", which has the advantages of high brightness and high contrast, ultra-fast response, and high color saturation. It is beneficial to the visibility of vehicle-mounted displays in sunlight, driving safety and reducing power consumption.

Although Micro LED mass production is still being tackled, it can be seen that manufacturers can’t wait to bring Micro LED to the automotive field.

What can Micro LED bring to smart cars?

Like LED, the typical structure of Micro LED is a semiconductor device composed of direct bandgap semiconductor materials. Micro LED is to thin-film, miniaturize, and array the LED structure, reducing the size to about 1~10 μm. It is transferred to the substrate in batches and then physically deposited to complete the protective layer and electrodes, and then packaged to complete the Micro LED display. .

Compared with LCD, OLED and Mini LED, Micro LED has very obvious performance advantages, including high refresh rate, low latency, high resolution, low power consumption, wide color gamut, high dynamic range, high brightness and thinness. Due to its inherent technical advantages, Micro LED technology is hailed as the next generation display technology in the industry.

So, what kind of enabling value can Micro LED bring to the automotive industry? The answer mainly comes from two aspects: display and lighting.

In terms of display, Micro LED is regarded as a disruptive technology for automotive screens. Micro LED and OLED display ideas are similar, and because LED is inorganic, the life of Micro LED is significantly extended. Micro LED allows the delay of interactive screens to reach nanoseconds, which is an order of magnitude higher than OLED's microseconds, making more and more in-car interactive screens smoother.

Since Micro LED is thinner, lighter and more transparent, the industry already has Micro LED screens with a transparency of over 70%, and there is potential for further improvement. It is expected that all car windows will be replaced by Micro LED, hiding the display invisibly. In addition, the brightness of Micro LED can reach a level of more than 1 million nits, which means that even if the screen is viewed in sunlight, there is no problem of unclear vision at all. It can be widely deployed around the car body, including smart display lights at the rear of the car. There are also sideways interactive displays, etc.

In terms of lighting, Micro LED can be used to create pixel-based car lights. Micro LED is also called μAFS in the field of car lights. It is the abbreviation of Addressable LED Pixel Array. It is a kind of multi-pixel smart LED Lighting system developed with LED technology. Compared with DLP pixel headlights, Micro LED technology has no moving parts, higher reliability, lower weight, and has low-cost potential in large-scale mass production. And as the technology level improves, the resolution gap between Micro LED pixel headlights and DLP headlights is also expected to narrow.

In other words, as the next generation display technology, Micro LED can completely replace the current displays using OLED and LCD. At the same time, Micro LED will also enter the automotive lighting track, making pixel headlights a standard feature of smart cars.

The industry actively promotes automotive Micro LED

Just like the dynamics of CES 2024, the industry is currently actively promoting the exploration of Micro LED applications in automobiles. Both terminal brands and upstream suppliers are very active.

From the terminal point of view, we see that the executive flagship sedan ET9 released by NIO is equipped with new smart high-definition projector headlights, which uses Micro LED units and film and television industrial-grade high-precision imaging lenses, which can be used with NIO's Aquila 2.0 car sensing System integration achieves enhanced near and high beam brightness, ultra-wide-angle coverage, ultra-large follow-up steering angle, and longer illumination distance, and can achieve pixel-level precise light control. Equipped with Micro LED headlights, NIO ET9 has functions such as intelligent tracking light blankets and intersection blind spot reminders.

Porsche also launched its own Micro LED car lights. The new Micro LED technology developed by Porsche in cooperation with Bosch, Infineon and Nichia. Each module has up to 8192 LED pixels. Two modules in a single headlight can achieve projection of up to 32768 pixels and illumination when combined with the entire vehicle. Reaching 300lx, the high beam projection distance is up to 600 meters. Benjamin Hummel, head of lighting modules at Porsche, said that the new technology is to further highlight the four-point shape of the lights, which has become an iconic design element of Porsche in recent years. The 2024 Cayenne has already used this technology. This is the world's first mass-produced HD module, which can project carpet lights in some specific scenes and achieve a very precise anti-glare effect.

In addition, the Volkswagen Touareg has also begun to be equipped with Micro LED car lights. Car manufacturers are active, and the upstream industry chain is equally enthusiastic. At present, many Tier1s have launched related products. For example, as mentioned above, Bosch participated in the design of Porsche's Micro LED lights; the Volkswagen Touareg's Micro LED lights come from Magneti Marelli. In July 2023, Magneti Marelli announced that it had joined forces with ams OSRAM to launch a new generation of h-Digi Micro LED modules, with 19,200 individually addressable Micro LED pixels and a pixel size of 40μm x 40μm.

This is the application of Micro LED car lights. In terms of display, upstream manufacturers are even more active. Micro LED has basically involved all the automotive display solutions we can think of. Domestically, on October 29, 2023, the "Micro LED Display Optical Performance Technical Specifications-Vehicle Conventions" and "Micro LED Two group standards, "Technical Specifications for Display Optical Performance - Vehicle Transparency", were officially released. Standard participants include 21 units including Tianma, BOE, TCL CSOT, AU Optronics, and Huike Jinyu Optoelectronics. In terms of automotive displays, the industry is currently only waiting for the large-scale mass production of Micro LED.

Conclusion

Due to its performance advantages such as high refresh rate, low latency, high resolution, low power consumption, wide color gamut, high dynamic range, high brightness and thinness, Micro LED can be described as an "all-rounder" in the automotive field. , all current solutions based on LCD and OLED may be replaced by Micro LED. At the same time, Micro LED also has great potential in car lights. After large-scale mass production, it is expected to have a huge impact on DLP pixel headlights with its low cost advantage. In short, the future of automotive Micro LED is promising.


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