Samsung Display will try out using vertical deposition of organic material for the production of Gen 8.5 IT OLED panels, TheElec has learned.
The South Korean display maker was collaborating with Japan’s ULVAC in the development of the equipment needed for this process, sources said.
IT OLED panels refer to panels for use in IT products such as tablets, notebooks and monitors.
Producing these panels using Gen 8.5 (2200x2500mm) substrates is more economically viable compared to Gen 6 (1500x1850mm) substrates currently used to manufacture smartphone OLED panels.
Vertical deposition method has the glass substrate stand up vertically against the surface. The organic material, in gas form, is deposited on the substrate from the sides.
For Gen 6 OLED, mostly horizontal deposition method is used where the substrate is placed horizontally atop the surface and the organic material in gas form is sprayed from the bottom to the top.
Samsung Display is considering trying the vertical method as it minimizes the mask used in deposition from sagging.
Fine metal masks used in deposition are vulnerable to have their center sag down as the substrate is placed horizontally. This is because the mask is aligned in a stick shape and the gravity pulls it down from the center as it is held in that position for long times. Display makers usually mold these sticks onto a large frame to prevent this from happening.
But since the substrate is held vertically, the center of the masks will be less prone to sagging, the sources said.
ULVAC has secured a research space near one of Samsung Display’s factories for the development of the equipment, sources said.
Vertical deposition equipment are yet to go mainstream, however. In 2017, Applied Materials had supplied some kits to Japan’s JDI that were used to manufacture OLED panels for Apple Watch. However, their production capacity was only 2,000 Gen 6 substrates per month.
Vertical deposition also requires higher temperatures to achieve, which can cause the characteristics of the organic material to change.
Meanwhile, sources said Samsung Display plans to also try out horizontal deposition sometime going forward.
The Gen 8.5 equipment will likely be developed by Japan’s Canon Tokki, which is currently the exclusive supplier of Gen 6 vertical deposition equipment to Samsung Display.
Samsung Display is currently manufacturing IT OLED panels using Gen 6 substrate line.
Using Gen 8.5 substrates is more advantageous in manufacturing larger panels. For instance, Gen 6 substrate can make 48 units of 13.3-inch panels. Gen 8.5 can manufacture 96 units.
Meanwhile, LG Display is looking to focus on developing more technologies related to Gen 6 IT OLED panels first, then shift to Gen 8.5. Samsung Display is expected to supply all the OLED panels used in Apple’s iPad next year, which will sport an OLED panel.