Mitsubishi Electric exhibited some massive OLED displays, including a gaudy circular display, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the U.S. and Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) in 2011. Based on the company’s modular “Diamond Vision” technology, the devices combine a series of 384 mm × 384 mm panels (with 128 × 128 pixels on each) to create large-format but low-resolution displays. Elsewhere at CES, LG Display presented a [31″ OLED TV with HD resolution that it expects to offer commercially later this year. While OLEDs have stormed the market for mobile devices (especially those made by Samsung), they’ve yet to break through for larger format displays – why?
For one, OLEDs’ perpetual bug-bear – durability – is a concern for products that need to outlast the brief two- to three-year lifetime of a mobile device. More specifically, there is a big problem with differential aging of the materials; since the blue emitters degrade in performance faster than the red or green ones, the color quality of the display can drop off over time (though algorithms can compensate for these shifts to some degrees).
There are also production challenges hampering large OLEDs, as well. The shadow masks used to pattern the organic light-emitting molecules over larger displays tend to bend and bow, which makes it difficult to pattern them precisely. What’s more, active matrix (AMOLED) displays require a backplane – the thin-film transistor (TFT) array that controls the display – to be made from low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS). As opposed to the amorphous silicon (a-Si) used for most displays, LTPS is difficult and costly to make over larger areas because it requires a laser annealing step.
Demonstration devices like those from LG Display show that such challenges can be overcome – but often at a cost, driven by tougher manufacturing processes and lower yields. As a result, it’s likely that the first affordable large OLEDs will be lower-resolution devices like Mitsubishi Electric’s – though even there, LCDs will remain a formidable incumbent for the foreseeable future.
Crystalline silicon (x-Si) PV modules comprise the largest and most established portion of the photovoltaic (PV) module market, holding roughly 81% of the global PV market in 2008. These x-Si modules also have significant penetration in all sizes of grid-tied applications – from residential to large-scale utility installations.
A handful of large, top-tier manufacturers dominate the market, but smaller start-ups with differentiated technologies are still entering. As the module oversupply rolls through 2009 and 2010, some crystalline silicon module manufacturers will be at the heart of the shakeout.
Examining the performance of companies in this technology area, we find that:
Large corporations with differentiated technologies are among the strongest performers.Many of the highest ranking companies are large corporations that stand out due to top-level high-efficiency products and large corporate backing. Their backing provides support for module warranties, capacity expansions, pricing battles, and technology development.
New competition from low-cost manufacturers is driving down the value of European leaders. European module manufacturers with high-quality x-Si module technologies are beginning to struggle as module production becomes increasingly commoditized. Their quality advantage is beginning to slide as new low-cost manufacturers gain access to higher-quality materials, dropping their scores on technical value scale.
Even with promising technologies, start-ups face formidable barriers to growth. The most successful pure-play solar firms got an early start in the market, and offer either differentiated technologies, sharp business execution, or both. New entrants to the solar market need more than a novel design or slight technical advantage to succeed. Companies building capacity, especially those based on a novel technology, score lower than those with existing capacity because they must play catch-up with more traditional and established manufacturers. The outlook is increasingly bleak for start-ups with unique technologies that are yet to build production capacity.