LED backlights poised to penetrate larger liquid crystal displays

Display segments such as laptops and LCD TVs present a strong growth opportunity for LEDs in the next several years, reports Alan Mills.

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Earlier this year, the Los Angeles chapter of the Society for Information Displays (SID) hosted a meeting with invited speakers on the subject of LEDs in liquid crystal displays (LCDs). LED backlighting units (BLUs) have already penetrated almost all LCDs in hand-held devices (phones, MP3 players etc) and were recently introduced into larger (3.5 to 7 inch) portable displays, for example global positioning and rear-seat automotive displays. Rapid growth is now being seen in the large LCD display market, including laptops, LCD TVs and, to a lesser extent, desktop monitors.

While the hand-held device market has been very successful for LED-backlit displays, significant dollar growth in this market (above 10% per year) will be much more difficult to maintain due to intense price competition among LED makers. Also, there is a decline in the average number of LEDs per small device – typically 2-3 LEDs are used in a mobile phone BLU -- as higher output, higher efficiency white LEDs are introduced. However, the phenomenal demand for Apple iPod music players, which contain three LEDs per BLU, and the introduction of 7-inch displays with four or more LEDs per device, are helping to reverse this trend.

Bill Kennedy from Toyoda Gosei, the conference chair, provided an overview of the backlit display business, where large-area LCDs lit with white and RGB LEDs have become a significant growth area. The main market segments are 11 -17 inch displays for laptops (all using side-view white LEDs) and 17 inch and higher displays, some using RGB LEDs, for computer monitors. By 2009 or 2010 this market could also gain added growth from large LCD TV sets, as less expensive LED-backlit TV models are introduced, based on the availability of higher brightness LEDs. The capability to improve NTSC color gamut (up to 147%) and make higher definition LED BLU TV sets has already been demonstrated by various manufacturers in the 50 to 80 inch range.

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This article was published in the June 2007 issue of LEDs Magazine.

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