Top LCD maker focuses research on LED backlights

LCD panel manufacturer AU Optronics is already supplying screens with LED backlights, and expects future growth in demand.

AU Optronics Corp., the world's third largest maker of LCD screens, is aiming most of its research dollars at LED technology, according to a report on www.infowordl.nl.

An AU Optronics executive said that the Taiwanese company is already providing 23-inch LCD screens with LED backlights to a major Japanese customer for the LCD-TV market.

"We have worked very diligently with LED makers on these television displays," said Po-Yen Lu, an executive vice president at AU, during a meeting with news media.

Although LED backlighting costs a bit more than mainstream backlighting, Lu said its better contrast and motion picture color quality has won it a following among some customers. The backlight technology probably won't become widespread until the company is able to double its production capacity and slash the price per screen by half, he said.

The company is also working with OLED (organic LED) screens for smaller devices, mainly mobile phones and digital cameras. The company is already marketing 2-inch and 2.4-inch OLED screens for mobile phones, as well as a 2-inch screen for digital still cameras.

OLED technology competes with LCD technology in many markets, but mainly in smaller devices since OLED screens use less power, enabling batteries to last longer.

During the second quarter, shipments of OLED panels grew 82 percent compared with last year to 14.2 million units and revenue hit US$124.8 million, according to market researcher DisplaySearch. The popularity of MP3 players providing the biggest boost for the OLED market.

For further details of the OLEDs report, see "Samsung dominates OLED market".

By contrast, DisplaySearch says that LCD maintained its huge lead over other display technologies in the second quarter, as LCD monitor revenue rose to US$7.7 billion.

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