Growth in LED demand—driven by broad adoption of general lighting applications—is expected to come at a fast, furious and sustained pace which analysts predict may last for a few years before the market once again pauses.
The way I see it, the current lull in LED market growth actually may be a great opportunity for LED manufacturers: Those who invest in productivity improvements now, while there is still the luxury of time, could potentially benefit significantly and outpace their competitors during the next high growth cycles.
The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as usual was crazy big, and with a few key exceptions (Apple comes to mind; everyone flocked to Las Vegas to demonstrate the latest gadgets and gizmos including, the latest display products. These included mobile devices - both smart phones and tablet PCs; notebook computers and TVs.
The goal of this post is to help you better understand industry terminology and highlight the latest products at this year’s CES enabled by Applied’s display technology.
I attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week for the fifth straight year, and as always, it was dazzling. CES is where the major consumer electronics makers reveal the new products they are planning to release in the upcoming year. This year the major featured trends included new tablet PCs from a variety of makers, amazingly sleek and lightweight “ultrabooks”, more and better 3-D products, and interactivity through gesture recognition. However, this year the most stunning theme was large, beautiful TVs using a variety of technologies. Naturally, this is what interested me the most and in this blog post I’ll tell you why and about the trends for 2012.
We’ve all seen it happen many times, especially during major events such as the post-thanksgiving Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday sales: gadgets that were expensively priced for early adopters are suddenly affordable and accessible to the average person, which in turn spur a jump in demand. A 55-inch 3D LED TV, for example, that retailed for more than $3000 USD not too long ago now sells for about $1300 (and it comes with a 3D Blu-ray player and 4 sets of 3D glasses!) Similarly, a respectable laptop PC can cost less than $300 USD these days when they were more than $2000 just a couple years back. My 486 desktop computer used to be two grand! Aside from consumer electronics, we’re seeing similar trends of cost reduction in industries such as solar and LED lighting. A photovoltaic (PV) solar module that used to cost more than $5 per watt five years ago now goes for about $1.50 per watt. LED light bulbs for general lighting sold for more than $40 per bulb in hardware stores two years ago now sell for less than $20, and I am sure they will be comparably priced with today’s CFL bulb in the near future.
So how do these incredibly technologically advanced products become so affordable? The answer is technology and scale.
During a recent trip to Applied Materials headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. China's Shaanxi Province Deputy Governor Wu Dengchang (center) and his team met with Applied Materials’ Mark Pinto, vice president, Energy and Environmental Solutions group (right of Wu) and Charlie Gay, president Applied Solar (left of Wu) and outlined the 5-years plan to quickly ramp up the total capacity of solar production as well as grow the domestic market for solar and LED applications.
On Wednesday, President Obama reminded us that “in America, innovation isn’t just how we change our lives. It’s how we make a living.” This rings especially true at Applied Materials as our livelihoods depend on changing lives through technology in big ways. We were encouraged to hear President Obama’s plans for the Better Buildings Initiative, focused on increasing high efficiency lighting, on-site renewable energy generation, insulation and coatings and advanced HVAC control technologies. At Applied Materials, we’re providing a map on how to get there and developing solutions in each of these categories.
Previously, I wrote about how LED manufacturers were striving to shorten the time between initiating the LED manufacturing process and measuring their performance in an effort to improve the product yields and possibly even boost LED performance.
Certainly one of the keys to making this possible is having rapid access to manufacturing data. There are many ways to gather data for analysis by the process engineers.
I am in Makuhari, Japan just outside of Tokyo this week for the FPD International/Green Devices 2010 show, running from Nov 10-12. Applied Materials’ theme at this year’s show is “Display Innovations for a Visual World” and the objective is to demonstrate our technology leadership in thin film transistor liquid crystal displays (TFT-LCD) and emerging displays.
In his blog, James Moyne talked about Applied Materials’ software footprint as it relates to crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar production. James highlighted a specific scenario where advanced process control plays an important role in addressing issues associated with solar cell printing. As this type of technology becomes widely adopted, the c-Si solar industry will collectively improve processes and drive the quality and conversion efficiency of the product to new highs.
The LED manufacturing world has an interesting mix of semiconductor technology and c-Si manufacturing practices. This raises the question: can automation software be beneficial—and affordable—for LED production lines? The answer is YES, and I’ll begin to tell you why.
Applied Materials hosted a delegation from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) recently. Among the key topics discussed was the growing Chinese solar manufacturing industry and Applied’s role in supporting that growth through our Solar Technology Center in Xi’an, China and with our wafering and screen printing tools.
We are pleased to expand our collaboration with imec to help advance the development of GaN-on-Si (gallium nitride-on-silicon) process and equipment technologies for manufacturing solid state lighting (e.g. LED) and next-generation power electronics components on 8-inch Silicon wafers.