Metal Oxide Thin-Film Transistor Markets

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Display backplanes fabricated with silicon TFTs are the industry standard for displays of all kinds. However, in the past decade various attempts have been made to move beyond silicon either on cost or performance grounds. A decade ago, the big promise seemed to come from organic transistors, but their promise has faded as their electron mobilities have proven to be woefully inadequate.

This report analyzes the market for the next wave of non-silicon TFTs to be pitched towards backplane and other applications. This wave uses metallic oxides and TFTs made from these materials promise electron mobilities of more or less the same level as amorphous silicon, but with lower costs. Interest in these materials is at a high point with some of the biggest names in displays – Sony, Sharp, Samsung, LG and Toshiba – making serious efforts to commercialize TFTs.

This report also examines the potential of these developments for new business revenues for materials firms that produce complex metallic oxide semiconductors. Until very recently, the addressable markets for such materials have been entirely in the R&D space. This report examines the key markets for oxide TFTs in the LCD, OLED and e-paper space. In addition, it also takes look at their role in other more speculative markets such as flexible displays, transparent electronics, sensors, RFID and even power electronics.

This report also presents an analysis and roadmap for the development of oxide OTFT technology both in terms of materials and manufacturing technology. In terms of the former, it takes a look at the difference that the arrival of p-type oxide semiconductors may have on the commercialization of oxide TFT technology. In addition, this report analyzes the market strategies for companies developing this technology and also includes an eight-year forecast made by application and material type.

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Metal Oxide Thin-Film Transistor Markets

  1. 1. www.nanomarkets.net Metal Oxide Thin-Film Transistor Markets Nano-527 Published April 2012 © NanoMarkets, LCNanoMarkets, LCPO Box 3840Glen Allen, VA 23058Tel: 804-270-1718Web: www.nanomarkets.net NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  2. 2. www.nanomarkets.netEntire contents copyright NanoMarkets, LC. The information contained in this report is basedon the best information available to us, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.NanoMarkets, LC and its author(s) shall not stand liable for possible errors of fact or judgment.The information in this report is for the exclusive use of representative purchasing companiesand may be used only by personnel at the purchasing site per sales agreement terms.Reproduction in whole or in any part is prohibited, except with the express written permissionof NanoMarkets, LC. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  3. 3. www.nanomarkets.netTable of ContentsExecutive Summary ............................................................................................................... 1 E.1 Summary of Opportunities for Products Utilizing Metal Oxide TFTs ............................... 1 Page | i E.1.1 Display Opportunities ..................................................................................................................................2 E.1.2 Other Opportunities ....................................................................................................................................2 E.1.3 Opportunities for Materials Firms ...............................................................................................................3 E.2 Firms to Watch in this Space ......................................................................................... 3 E.3 Summary of Eight-Year Forecasts for Metal Oxide TFT Products .................................... 4 E.4 Concluding Remarks ..................................................................................................... 8Chapter One: Introduction ..................................................................................................... 9 1.1 Background to this Report ............................................................................................ 9 1.1.1 The Silicon Landscape ................................................................................................................................11 1.1.2 Metal Oxide TFTs and How They Fit In ......................................................................................................12 1.2 Objectives and Scope of this Report ............................................................................ 15 1.3 Methodology of this Report ........................................................................................ 16 1.4 Plan of this Report ...................................................................................................... 16Chapter Two: Oxide TFT Technology: Assessment and Roadmap .......................................... 17 2.1 Zinc Oxide-Based Materials ........................................................................................ 17 2.1.1 Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) ..............................................................................................................17 2.1.2 Indium Zinc Oxide (IZO) .............................................................................................................................18 2.1.3 Zinc Tin Oxide (ZTO) ...................................................................................................................................19 2.1.4 Hafnium Indium Zinc Oxide (HIZO) ............................................................................................................20 2.1.5 Aluminum Doped Zinc Oxide (AZO) ...........................................................................................................21 2.2 Potential for p-Type Oxide Semiconductors ................................................................ 21 2.3 Assessment of Oxide Development Programs at Leading Firms ................................... 22 2.3.1 AUO ............................................................................................................................................................23 2.3.2 CBRITE ........................................................................................................................................................24 2.3.3 HP ...............................................................................................................................................................25 2.3.4 LG Display ..................................................................................................................................................25 2.3.5 Samsung Electronics ..................................................................................................................................26 NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  4. 4. www.nanomarkets.net 2.3.6 Sharp ..........................................................................................................................................................27 2.3.7 Sony ...........................................................................................................................................................28 2.3.8 Toppan Printing Co. ...................................................................................................................................28 2.3.9 Toshiba.......................................................................................................................................................29 2.4 Assessment of Materials Suppliers for Metal Oxide Backplanes .................................. 29 Page | ii 2.4.1 Advanced Nano Products (ANP) ................................................................................................................29 2.4.2 JX Nippon Mining & Metals .......................................................................................................................29 2.4.3 Ulvac Materials ..........................................................................................................................................29 2.5 Evolution of Fabrication Technology for TFTs .............................................................. 30 2.6 Key Points Made in this Chapter ................................................................................. 31Chapter Three: Market Requirements and Opportunities for Oxide TFTs .............................. 33 3.1 What is the Future Role of Oxide TFTs in the LCD Market? .......................................... 33 3.1.1 The Competitive Environment and Importance of Device Types for TFTs in LCDs ...................................33 3.1.2 The Current State of the LCD Market ........................................................................................................36 3.2 Oxide TFTs and OLEDs ................................................................................................ 37 3.2.1 Mobile Displays ..........................................................................................................................................38 3.2.2 OLED TVs (Large-Area Applications) ..........................................................................................................42 3.3 E-Paper ...................................................................................................................... 45 3.4 Potential Future Markets for Oxide TFTs ..................................................................... 46 3.4.1 Flexible Displays .........................................................................................................................................46 3.4.2 Transparent Electronics .............................................................................................................................47 3.4.3 Sensors and RFID .......................................................................................................................................47 3.4.4 Memory .....................................................................................................................................................48 3.5 Key Points Made in this Chapter ................................................................................. 48Chapter Four: Eight-Year Forecasts for Oxide TFTs................................................................ 50 4.1 Forecasting Methodology ........................................................................................... 50 4.2 Forecasts by Application ............................................................................................. 52 4.2.1 LCD (and AMOLED) Tablet Displays ...........................................................................................................53 4.2.2 Flat-Panel TV Displays ................................................................................................................................56 4.2.3 Smartphone Displays .................................................................................................................................60 4.2.4 Personal Computer Displays ......................................................................................................................64 4.3 Forecast by Oxide Type............................................................................................... 68 NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  5. 5. www.nanomarkets.net 4.4 Summary Forecast ...................................................................................................... 72 Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report ............................................................. 75 About the Author ............................................................................................................. 75 Page | iii List of ExhibitsExhibit E-1: Firms to Watch in the Metal Oxide TFT Space ............................................................................................4Exhibit E-2: Summary of Revenue for Metal Oxide TFT Backplanes ..............................................................................6Exhibit E-3: Summary of Shipments of Metal Oxide Area Shipped ...............................................................................7Exhibit 4-1: Oxide Backplanes in the LCD Tablet Market Segment .............................................................................53Exhibit 4-2: Oxide Backplanes in the AMOLED Tablet Market Segment .....................................................................55Exhibit 4-3: Oxide Backplanes in the LCD TV Market Segment ...................................................................................57Exhibit 4-4: Oxide Backplanes in the AMOLED TV Market Segment ...........................................................................59Exhibit 4-5: Oxide Backplanes in the LCD Smartphone Market Segment ....................................................................61Exhibit 4-6: Oxide Backplanes in the AMOLED Smartphone Market Segment............................................................63Exhibit 4-7: Oxide Backplanes in the LCD Personal Computer Market Segment.........................................................65Exhibit 4-8: Oxide Backplanes in the AMOLED Personal Computer Market Segment ................................................67Exhibit 4-9: Oxide Backplanes: Market Summary by Type ..........................................................................................69Exhibit 4-10: Summary of Revenue for Metal Oxide TFT Backplanes ..........................................................................72Exhibit 4-11: Summary of Shipments of Metal Oxide Area Shipped ...........................................................................73 NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  6. 6. www.nanomarkets.netExecutive SummaryE.1 Summary of Opportunities for Products Utilizing Metal Oxide TFTsThe flat-panel display has become ubiquitous in consumer electronics products, and is a very Page | 1important part of the user experience in most applications. Continually improving theperformance of these displays has become a competitive driving force that brings newtechnology to the market. Metal oxide thin-film transistor backplanes are in a position to offerperformance improvements to the display industry at a reasonable cost, and hence are in aposition to take advantage of a genuine market opportunity.Amorphous silicon (a-silicon) is the current industry standard with regard to backplanetechnology in the display industry, but it is performance-limited from a materials point of view.Higher resolution, higher display refresh rates and lower power consumption are just some ofthe important directions that the flat-panel display industry is going in, and a-silicon will not beable to meet the industry needs in these areas.Metal oxide backplanes, however, offer all of those benefits to the flat-panel display industry,and do it at a reasonable cost, and with scalable manufacturing processes. Hence, they areideally poised to take the display industry in to the future.The rapid growth of handheld device markets like smartphones and tablets has spurred thedevelopment of high mobility backplanes, as manufacturers for these mobile applicationsattempt to provide their users with the best possible visual experience.Additionally, the fact that the flat-panel TV industry is always looking for ways to improve itsvisual experience has provided amorphous oxide backplanes with opportunities in high growthand high volume markets.The market forces that are the most important in positively impacting the adoption of metaloxide backplanes in the market include the following: • a-Silicon has reached the limits of its potential as a backplane material from a materials point of view. Hence, display manufacturers see the need for alternative high mobility backplane materials. • Unlike its direct competitor—low temperature poly-silicon (LTPS)—the metal oxide backplane provides significant performance improvements at a reasonable cost. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  7. 7. www.nanomarkets.net Additionally, it is manufactured using a process that is scalable and requires significantly lower capital expenditure from an equipment point of view. • The recent push for active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED)-based flat-panel displays in various segments of the consumer electronics market (smartphones, TVs, tablets) has Page | 2 spurred the development of high mobility backplane materials, because OLEDs cannot be driven by a-silicon, due to its limited electrical characteristics. E.1.1 Display OpportunitiesThe display opportunities that present themselves can be broken up into two main branches:LCD and AMOLED. Within these two branches, the market is easily further segmented intoapplications based on display: small (smartphones), medium (tablets), and large (TVs andpersonal computers).From a competitive point of view, metal oxide backplanes offer improved performance at areasonable cost, and with the potential for large-area manufacturing. It is the cost andmanufacturing advantage over LTPS that provide an insight into the market segments that willbe the most important to metal oxide backplanes going forward.The tablet market segment is a fast growing segment that places a high priority on displayperformance. High mobility backplanes have the potential to make a strong impact in thismarket, and it is here that metal oxides are expected to see significant market penetration overthe course of this forecast period due to the value propositions that they provide.The competitive advantage that metal oxide backplanes have over LTPS with regard to largearea displays is due to the scalable manufacturing process involved in producing them. Thisscalability makes them the ideal high mobility backplane for the flat-panel TV market, andindeed, their development has been pioneered by companies like Sharp, LG Display andSamsung.Metal oxide backplanes have a very real revenue opportunity in both LCD and AMOLED TVdisplays. AMOLED TVs that are expected to enter the market in earnest over the course of thisforecast period require a high mobility backplane material that can be manufactured in a costefficient manner. Metal oxide backplanes are ideally suited to meet these requirements. E.1.2 Other OpportunitiesMetal oxide materials are transparent semiconductor materials with high mobility, and thesecharacteristics allow them to be used in both the integrated circuit that drives the backplane, aswell as the backplane transistor itself. Additionally, metal oxide materials can potentially be NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  8. 8. www.nanomarkets.netmanufactured using solution-based, roll-to roll-printing methods. This combination of benefitswill potentially open up new revenue opportunities for metal oxide backplane materials. • Roll-to-roll manufacturing methods enable the use of metal oxide materials in flexible electronics. The low temperature manufacturing process allows these materials to be Page | 3 deposited on flexible substrates. • The high mobility and transparent nature of metal oxide semiconductors opens up the transparent electronics market segment. The potential to be used in transparent logic circuits could lead to the development of a suite of new devices, and metal oxide materials can provide the characteristics necessary to make it happen. • Solution-processed metal oxide manufacturing would be lower cost than the deposition of metal oxide materials. This cost advantage could enable their use in the inexpensive manufacture of intelligent sensors and RFID tags. E.1.3 Opportunities for Materials FirmsThe recent interest in metal oxide TFT backplanes has spurred the market for companies thatcan supply amorphous metal oxide materials. Because the metal oxide production process is adeposition process, there will be a high demand for high quality metal oxide sputtering targetsthat can be used in the latest generation sputtering systems.The firms to keep an eye on in this space currently are Advanced Nano Products, JX NipponMining & Metals and Ulvac Materials, although more companies are expected to enter thespace due to the recent increase in demand for metal oxide materials.The focus of the industry is on indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) from the commercial point ofview, and companies manufacturing sputtering targets for IGZO are expected to become muchmore prevalent over the course of this forecast period.E.2 Firms to Watch in this SpaceThere are multiple firms that have undertaken the development of production lines toaccommodate metal oxide backplane technology. These are primarily the large players in theflat-panel display industry, and the fact that these companies are behind the production ofmetal oxide backplanes is a sign of the potential of this technology.The firms to watch in this space are summarized in Exhibit E-1. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  9. 9. www.nanomarkets.netExhibit E-1: Firms to Watch in the Metal Oxide TFT SpaceCompany Metal Oxide TFT Production ActivityAUO AUO has the potential to begin volume production of oxide TFTs by 2013. This technology will play a big role in AUOs recent entry into the AMOLED market with a suite of products.CBRITE CBRITE is pioneering non-IGZO-based oxide TFT backplanes. Since CBRITE is a Page | 4 small, early stage company, the timeline for its product to reach the market is dependent on its ability to form strategic partnerships that can commercialize its technology.LG Display LG is likely to see revenues from products with metal oxide backplanes as early as late 2012 or early 2013. It is expected to get large area AMOLED-based TVs into the market, and metal oxide backplanes are an important strategic move in this direction.Samsung Samsung has shown interest in metal oxide technology, as evidenced by prototype products. It is expected to come to the market with metal oxide backplanes toward the end of 2013.Sharp Sharp has pioneered the commercialization of IGZO, and is the most committed to getting IGZO backplanes into its display products. It is expected to convert a state-of-the-art fab to manufacture IGZO backplanes, and is rumored to have a strategic partnership with Apple to manufacture IGZO-based displays for Apples iPad.© NanoMarkets 2012 E.3 Summary of Eight-Year Forecasts for Metal Oxide TFT ProductsExhibit E-2 summarizes the eight-year forecasts for metal oxide backplanes in the flat-paneldisplay industry. NanoMarkets expects this market to be valued at $3.8 billion by the end of theforecast period.The predicted market growth is driven by the need of the flat-panel display industry for highmobility backplanes. Backplanes capable of enabling higher resolution, lower powerconsumption and higher driving currents (specifically for AMOLEDs), all at a reasonable cost, arewhat the industry requires at present, and metal oxide backplanes are poised to provide thiscapability.However, metal oxide backplanes will directly compete with LTPS as a high mobility backplanematerial. These two technologies will be competing in the marketplace along the followingdimensions: • Electrical characteristics and performance—LTPS has the upper hand in this regard with higher mobility figures, although there are questions about the stability of the film in larger areas. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  10. 10. www.nanomarkets.net • Ease of production—The scalability of the LTPS production processes is severely limited when compared to the production of metal oxide backplanes. • Cost of production—The laser annealing process used in LTPS production is significantly more costly than the sputtering process used to deposit oxide backplanes. Additionally, Page | 5 the capital expenditure required for the production equipment needed for LTPS manufacturing is significantly higher than that required for metal oxide backplanes.LTPS is dominant in the smartphone market segment, having been in the market for longer.Metal oxide backplanes are better-suited for the large area display market segments, and thecost-effective production process is expected to make them strongly competitive in thesmartphone and small-area segment as well.Therefore, the smartphone and TV markets are expected to be significant revenue generatorsfor metal oxide backplanes in the early portion of the forecast period, with the tablet marketsegment showing the best potential for rapid growth.Metal oxide TFTs will also see significant penetration in the AMOLED market over the course ofthis forecast period, specifically in the medium and large display area sectors. However, the unitsales of AMOLED displays in the tablet, personal computer and TV space are tempered by thefact that the AMOLED display is itself an emerging technology in these market segments.The LCD market will see much lower penetration numbers than the AMOLED market, but thesize of the market means that this penetration still translates to significant revenues. Thepenetration of oxide backplanes in the LCD market is expected to occur at a steady rate, withoxide backplanes seeing significant market share towards the end of the forecast period. a-Silicon is entrenched as a backplane technology, and as such there is significant inertia againstreplacing it, and so new technology is not expected to penetrate extremely rapidly. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  11. 11. www.nanomarkets.net Total Oxide Material Shipped 45 40 35 Page | 8 Millions Sq. M 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 © NanoMarkets, LCE.4 Concluding RemarksNanoMarkets believes that high mobility backplanes have a very important role to play in thedisplay industry. Metal oxide backplanes will be competing with LTPS in this space, whileattempting to replace a-silicon as the industry standard backplane material. Metal oxidematerials compete primarily on the ease and relative cost effectiveness of their manufacturingprocess while providing significant improvements over a-silicon.Amorphous metal oxide backplanes will become a strong commercial technology over thecourse of this forecast period, and the reasons for this have been explored in this report. Theoxide TFT is a technology that offers value propositions that satisfy the needs of the displayindustry across various market segments, and is a very real commercial opportunity goingforward. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  12. 12. www.nanomarkets.netChapter One: Introduction1.1 Background to this ReportMetal oxide thin-film transistors (TFTs) are poised to capture a very real revenue opportunity in Page | 9the display industry. Amorphous metal oxide materials have the potential to be used in thebackplane of flat-panel displays as an alternative to amorphous silicon (a-silicon), which iscurrently the industry standard. a-Silicon is limited in its performance as a backplane material,and its newer, high-performance alternative, low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) is extremelyexpensive to produce. Metal oxide materials offer better performance than a-silicon, and arecheaper to manufacture than LTPS, which is in good alignment with the needs of the displayindustry going forward.The importance of addressing each picture element (each unit of which is called a pixel) in aflat-panel display containing well over a million pixels is a task that is accomplished by either apassive or active matrix in the backplane of the display. This act of addressing is what rendersthe image on the screen from the electronic input. LCD technology has dominated the marketin the recent past in high-resolution, fast-refreshing large display applications such as laptopsand TVs. The addressing of pixels in LCDs has typically been achieved using what is known as an"active matrix" of thin-film transistors fabricated, most commonly, out of amorphous silicon.It has, however, been known for some time now that a-silicon isnt the ideal material for thinfilm transistor backplanes. Even so, they have met the requirements of the display industry thatis currently dominated by LCD technology. But LCD display makers have come to the realizationthat a-silicon is really a stagnant technology. It has reached the upper limits of process andmorphological improvement that engineering of the production processes can provide, and isnow really limited by the properties of a-silicon itself.Displays for the next decade are either going to be LCD-based or organic light emitting diode(OLED)-based for the most part. Next-generation LCD displays are not going to have theirperformance needs satisfied by a-silicon; it quite simply doesnt have the potential to meet theimproved resolution requirements, higher refresh rates, and lower power goals of next-generation LCD displays. It is also incapable of satisfying the requirements of large-area OLEDdisplays.It will eventually come to the point where a-silicon will potentially become a limiting factor withregard to improving the performance of next-generation displays unless a novel backplanematerial is introduced. NanoMarkets believes that there is room for a technological NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  13. 13. www.nanomarkets.netimprovement at a fundamental level. Hence, there is a very real revenue opportunity forcompanies seeking to bring newer backplane technologies to the market.Amorphous transparent metal oxide based TFTs have the requisite materials properties tosatisfy the needs of next-generation displays, as will be evidenced later in this report. Its very Page | 10realistic that metal oxide TFTs will, in fact, be a suitable replacement for a-silicon. There aresome obstacles that need to be overcome with regard to device stability in large area and largevolume production, but the development of these materials is being backed in a large way bymultiple companies.The display industry is rapidly expanding with regard to the number of consumer electronicsdevices on the market. The tablet and smartphone segments have added a new dimension tothe market, allowing OLED displays to make an entrance in smaller area applications (they have,until very recently, been found unsuitable for large-area displays). There are also flexibledisplays in the works at a few companies, as well as electrophoretic ink-based displays thathave been present in the market for some time now.This suite of commercialized devices allows for a targeted segmentation approach by a newtechnology entering the market. Certain companies are pioneering metal oxide TFTs for large-area LCD and OLED display applications, while others are planning on targeting the tabletdisplay market. Strategies behind these decisions revolve around production capability, thesubstrate area capable of being handled by the manufacturing facilities, and where companiesbelieve they can see the highest revenue opportunity for their amorphous oxide backplanes.Segmentation in a relatively mature market is essential in meeting customer demands andpositioning the product so as to maximize revenue. New, high growth segments (smartphones,tablets, notebooks) in the consumer electronics device market have led to a large increase inthe potential revenue to be captured by display makers. With these high-growth segments,however, comes increased consumer expectations from the point of view of visual quality andperformance in displays, and the need to meet these expectations is why bringing newtechnology to the market is crucial.NanoMarkets believes that the industry is on the brink of an overhaul with regard to itsbackplane technology. It is not really a question of if a-silicon will be replaced, but rather, when.At its present stage of development, amorphous metal oxide backplane technology, with theproperties it displays from a performance point of view, is the most realistic replacement. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  14. 14. www.nanomarkets.net 1.1.1 The Silicon Landscapea-Silicon has, for a long time, been the material of choice for use in the transistors for displaybackplanes. There are various reasons why, but it is also readily apparent that there is room forimprovement, and changes in the morphology of silicon itself have led to performanceimprovements that could prove to usurp a-silicon. The base material is still silicon however, and Page | 11it appears that silicon has really made itself indivisible from the backplane transistor. a-Siliconprovides adequate performance for large-scale display applications in terms of its electronicperformance. The key word in the above sentence is adequate, but it definitely has limitations: • The mobility of amorphous silicon is a few orders of magnitude less than that of crystalline silicon, yet it has managed to become the material of choice for the active matrix of thin-film transistors in displays. • The low mobility of a-silicon, a fundamental materials property, is coupled with a loss of real estate on the backplane, because the size of each transistor is forced to be relatively large, leading to a larger pixel, and hence lower screen resolution. • a-Silicon requires an external driver circuit to manipulate the transistors at each pixel, and this driving circuit cant be made out of a-silicon due to its low mobility. The external circuit is an added production step, and is a potential target for cost savings if it can be incorporated into the TFT active matrix fabrication process.a-Silicon is still favored because of its low temperature, relatively inexpensive productionprocess compared to better-performing materials. Additionally, the production process allowsfor relatively simple scalability to large areas, which has led to the general adoption of a-siliconin large-area electronics applications.An important question is whether a-silicon has the potential to continue its dominance in theseapplications. It beats competitors on cost, but one wonders when the value of addedperformance will prove itself worth the additional cost for switching materials. Developmentefforts have been specifically targeted at low temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) as a thin-filmtransistor material for displays. Its benefits include: • A significantly higher mobility than a-silicon; • Smaller grain sizes, leading to smaller transistors, smaller pixels and higher resolution; • The ability to integrate driver circuits onto the glass substrate, significantly reducing the number of connections on the substrate and improving durability; and • Lower power consumption than a-silicon. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  15. 15. www.nanomarkets.netLTPS does have certain problems, though. It is usually manufactured by a process that dependson laser annealing, which is an expensive fabrication method with questionable scalabilitycompared to the relatively standard lithographic manufacturing of a-silicon. This issue is astrong inhibitor to the adoption of poly-silicon in large area display applications, and so far thistechnology has made limited inroads, and mostly in devices with small displays. Page | 12Small display applications have grown strongly as a revenue stream with the advent of smartphones and tablets. And this market segment has actually made it possible for higher-performing materials like poly-silicon to see applicability in the market. At the very least, smallarea displays provide an avenue for market entry while development efforts continue toaddress the scalability of the production process for large-area displays.The recent advances in OLED displays have also spurred the development of LTPS for displayapplications. LTPS has the potential to really push the large scale adoption of OLED devices, thehighest volumes of which are used in small area displays.The competitive landscape between OLED and LCD displays over the forecast period could leadto interesting backlashes in the backplane sector as well. Currently, OLEDs have not been ableto penetrate the large-area display market, primarily due to high production costs. However,organic displays are experiencing extremely rapid increases in adoption in the smartphonemarket. The emerging adoption of LTPS in response to superior performance demands in thesmall area display segment could lead to the displacement of a-silicon as the dominant force insmaller device backplanes.LCDs currently dominate the large-area display market, and a-silicon is the industry standardbackplane technology in this segment. It is cheap and its performance meets the devicerequirements, but how long will this last?Going one step further than that, in an application entirely dominated by variations on siliconthin films, is there room for revolutionary material substitutes to squeeze out a position in theshort term, and perhaps expand it to a reasonable market share in the long run?This report aims to shed some light on the answer to that question, specifically with regard tothe potential of thin film metal oxides in this market. 1.1.2 Metal Oxide TFTs and How They Fit InThe fact is that metal oxide thin-film transistors have the very real potential to be a disruptivetechnology in this market. This potential stems from the fact that they, in a sense, combine thebest of both the a-silicon and LTPS worlds. They offer: NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  16. 16. www.nanomarkets.net • A mobility higher than a-silicon, though lower than LTPS; • Low temperature fabrication, coupled with the potential for relatively cheap large scale production, which LTPS does not offer (yet); Page | 13 • Smaller pixel sizes than a-silicon, and hence higher resolution displays; and • A larger aperture ratio compared to a-silicon per pixel, allowing for higher transmission through the backplane. This feature could be used to reduce the power of the backlight, or to increase brightness as per the device requirements.Metal oxide thin films are potentially a competitive force to be reckoned with in this space, andhave garnered the commercial interests of multiple companies looking to capitalize on theseadvantages. These firms will be elaborated on more in the following chapters in this report, butboth big names in the display space such as Sharp, as well as smaller companies like CBrite Inc.,are hoping to really capitalize on the potential of thin-film metal oxide transistors to gaintraction in the display market.Metal oxides have the potential to simultaneously impact both large and small area displays,and offer a cost effective replacement for a-silicon. Improvements in fabrication processes andthe shift to truly large volume manufacturing will lower costs for metal oxides, easing their entryinto the laptop and television market.Companies like Sharp and LG Display are already pushing metal oxide TFT backplanes for large-area applications, and the relative simplicity and scalability of the production process for metaloxide TFTs is a strong enabling factor for the technology.Oxide TFT technology is largely compatible with existing production lines in use for LCDdisplays, reducing the capital expenditure for panel makers. The production of large-scale OLEDdisplays will allow companies to leverage this factor, since they can modify existing LCDproduction lines for the shift to oxide TFTs.Large scale OLED displays are going into production soon, and oxide TFTs will be a very importantfactor in ensuring that they are cost-competitive with LCD displays. The production of largescale active-matrix OLEDs (AMOLEDs) and oxide TFTs will go hand-in-hand as they push forthinto the large area display marketplace.Metal oxides will offer strong competition to LTPS, since both of these materials are ideallysuited for OLED displays. The explosive growth of the smartphone and tablet markets usingactive-matrix OLEDs is the market driver most strongly pushing the development and NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  17. 17. www.nanomarkets.netcommercialization of these materials in this market segment. The high resolution and increasedtransmission through the backplane of both of these technologies are key requirements forsmall area displays.From purely a performance point of view, LTPS actually is superior to metal oxide TFTs at their Page | 14current state-of-the-art. However the high costs associated with LTPS might prove to be atechnology killer going forward. This high-cost position of LTPS will allow metal oxide TFTs to beused in a significant portion of the applications that LTPS would have been attempting tocapture going forward. So while LTPS may have the edge in the near term, metal oxide TFTscould really pose a serious threat to its continued use.The focus paid to silicon so far in this report is intended to provide a view of the competitivelandscape that metal oxide TFTs face as they enter the market. The devices they are used in(and hence display size) will end up segmenting the market for metal oxide TFTs in a way thatallows the technology to leverage its strengths.The market has effectively done the same thing for silicon, with a-silicon dominating the largeare display formats, and LTPS making an impact in smaller area displays and emerging OLEDdisplays. Metal oxide TFTs will need to position themselves slightly differently in each of thesemarkets, and do offer the potential for capturing significant revenue from each segment.The success of metal oxide TFTs coming off of large volume production lines is yet to beevaluated. Performance and quality control in manufacturing situations can be challenging in amaterial that inherently has been shown to have inferior electrical stability (with regard to thetransistor threshold voltage) than a-silicon. The most important questions that will affect theadoption of metal oxide TFTs as their output is increased over the next one to three years: • Cost effectiveness of the production process. Will the expected minimal overhaul of the existing LCD backplane production lines be a low capital expenditure move while still providing high product quality? • What is the true lifetime of the metal oxide backplane, and will electrical stability prove to be a problem with use? • Can the uniformity of the metal oxide thin film be improved and made comparable to a- silicon, particularly in large scale displays? What are the scalability limits of the film?Metal oxide TFTs should really be aiming at becoming the industry standard technology fordisplay backplanes over the next decade. In the current industry environment, the technologies NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  18. 18. www.nanomarkets.netcompeting with metal oxide TFTs are really LTPS, from the point of view of performance, and a-silicon, simply because it is the current industry standard; there are no other emergingtechnologies on the horizon that are far enough along in their development at this point toreally present a challenge to metal oxides. Page | 15Additionally, LTPS is expensive for large-area manufacturing, and this fact is a prime example ofwhere performance alone doesnt guarantee success in the marketplace. Metal oxide TFTs aremuch better-suited to the industry needs from the overall point of view of cost, performance,manufacturability, and scalability.1.2 Objectives and Scope of this ReportThe objective of this report is to highlight the business revenue opportunities for metal oxideTFT backplane materials in the various market segments of the display industry. This goal isachieved through an analysis of the evolution of the display market and its expected futuredirections.With regard to forecasting, more attention has been paid to the opportunities for the metaloxide films that are likely to see commercialization over the course of this forecast period, suchas indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO). The range of possible material compositions available tofabricate transparent metal oxide thin films is vast, and hence the ones that are being focusedon actively by companies in the industry are similarly highlighted here.The other oxide materials that might have a role to play in the industry further on down theroad have been mentioned. These include aluminum zinc oxide, indium zinc oxide, zinc tinoxide, hafnium indium zinc oxide and p-type amorphous oxides. However, their role asbackplane materials is not strongly emphasized from a commercial point of view by the displayindustry, and they have been treated as such here.The value propositions of the amorphous metal oxides discussed in this report are thenanalyzed from the point of view of the needs of the display market, and their potential forgenerating revenue is discussed. This report also provides detailed market forecasts for metaloxide TFT backplanes in the display industry.The market forecasts are presented by the main types of backplane materials, as well as by thekey market segments that metal oxide TFT backplanes will cater to. The forecasts consist ofannual revenue figures for panels using these materials, as well as the area of backplanematerial used, over an eight-year period. The numbers have been arrived at based on analyzingthe state of the display industry and the various competitive forces at play within it. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  19. 19. www.nanomarkets.netIn addition, this report is international in scope. We have not been geographically selective inthe firms covered or interviewed for the purposes of compiling this report.1.3 Methodology of this ReportThe information for this report is derived from a variety of sources, primarily from Page | 16NanoMarkets interview program of technologists, business development managers andacademics associated with this field. An extensive search of the technical literature and relevantcompany Web sites was also conducted. Additionally, previous reports from NanoMarkets thatbear relevance to the subject have been consulted, including the following: Markets for OLEDMaterials 2011, Emerging Markets for Non-ITO Transparent Conductive Oxides 2011, and ZincOxide Markets 2010 and Beyond.The forecasting method used in this report is explained in detail in Chapter Four, but thefundamental approach is to identify the key driving forces for the adoption of metal oxidetechnology over the course of the forecasting period, and use these drivers as the basis for ourpredictions. The driving forces within each display application are then evaluated to judge thelevel of market penetration that metal oxide TFTs are likely to achieve in the various segmentsin the display space.1.4 Plan of this ReportChapter Two will discuss the present technology roadmap for metal oxide TFTs, as well asprovide an assessment of the developmental progress of this technology at various firms.Chapter Three will then go on to investigate the market requirements that are expected todrive the adoption of oxide TFTs, and how these requirements will translate to revenueopportunities. Finally, Chapter Four will go over our eight-year forecasts for metal oxide TFTs,both from the point of view of the material type, as well as the applications that presentthemselves. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259

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