Record investments are expected in LTPS flat panel displays following rapid growth in demand for high performance smartphone displays.
According to DisplaySearch statistics LTPS, or Low Temperature Polysilicon, displays are expected to “explode” this year after years of looking for a killer application that would enable the technology to become mainstream.
LTPS is an enabling display manufacturing technology which is currently the only mass production method for manufacturing AMOLED displays, also enabling high resolution LCD displays with higher transmission and lower power consumption.
According to DisplaySearch analyst Charles Annis it is the success of Samsung’s AMOLED-based Galaxy phones and Apple’s LCD-based iPhone 4 that have pushed the performance standard of high-end mobile displays to a level that “currently only LTPS can meet”.
Now the spending on equipment to attempt to meet demand is expected to surge to an all time high of $2.4 billion in 2011.
Therefore supply of AMOLED and LTPS LCDs are forecast to be extremely tight this year, as reported by TechEye last autumn. And despite panel makers rushing to build new factories as quickly as possible, they are unable to add capacity fast enough to meet this year’s demand.
Also, any capacity that is added this year is unlikely to be able to ramp up to mass production until next year.
Not only are LTPS investments impressive, but Annis highlights that we are now beginning to see larger substrates using Gen 5.5 production.
It is the cost of the specialised tools that are used to fabricate LTPS on glass that are a significant factor in the spike in equipment spending, according to Annis.
It is forecast that the that expansions and equipment spending will remain relatively high, and will continue if AMOLEDs eventually penetrate the large screen TV market on a large scale.