Samsung Display is looking toward China on its quest to commercialize MicroLED panels, Korean outlet ETNews reported Sunday, citing industry sources close to the company. The Seoul-based tech giant is said to have recently signed an agreement with LED chip manufacturer Sanan Optoelectronics that will supply the company with its technologies for the next three years. The full value of the deal remains unclear, though Samsung reportedly already paid an advance amounting to nearly $17 million. The firm unveiled the world's first modular MicroLED TV at this year's iteration of the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, having presented it as "The Wall," though the company still doesn't have the capacity to mass-produce such devices.
The deal with Sanan Optoelectronics is meant to help accelerate Samsung's growing ambitions in the MicroLED segment and also aligns with China's own plans for the technology. According to previous reports, a number of original equipment manufacturers from the Far Eastern country are planning to start commercializing MicroLED panels as early as this year, with smartphones supposedly being their test market of sorts. MicroLED displays are seen by many OEMs as a viable alternative to AMOLED modules that are expected to continue being in short supply in the immediate future, with Samsung still accounting for the vast majority of the market. While MicroLED's potential in the TV segment is just as high, large panels using the technology aren't expected to be commercialized on any significant scale in the next several years.
Much like its name implies, MicroLED utilizes numerous microscopic light-emitting diodes in order to light up individual pixels much like an OLED panel does, offering perfect blacks and energy-efficient performance. The solution essentially mimicks OLED modules using inorganic materials, hence being capable of delivering higher peak brightness and better contrast. While its current manufacturing costs aren't low relative to OLED panels, MicroLED technologies could be just as affordable to commercialize in the future, many industry watchers believe. Samsung's commitment to Sanan Optoelectronics also marks yet another step in the company's long-term diversification plan that's seeking new growth engines which could replace its currently booming chip business once the global demand for high-end silicon starts declining in the coming years.