Today’s column focuses on a major acquisition. Japanese giant Sumitomo Chemical (Tokyo, Japan; www.sumitomo-chem.co.jp/english/) ($15B in sales last year) will acquire Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) adding yet another layer of confidence to the large display OLED-TV story.
Senior Analyst and Editor
Sumitomo will acquire all outstanding shares of CDT common stock at a price of $12 per share in cash, for a purchase price of about $285M or about a 107% premium over CDT’s 90-day average closing share price, according to Japan’s Nikkei Net News service.
While the two companies have had a close relationship since first working together in 2001, more recent developments may have pushed the chemical giant into acquisition mode.
Specifically, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. of Korea announced plans to sell OLED based TVs in 2008 and Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co. Ltd. (TMD) in 2009, all coming on the heels of Sony Corporation’s stunning announcement at CES in January that they will launch an OLED based TV for sale in Japan later this year.
DisplaySearch recently forecast shipments of OLED TV panels would reach around 3M units in 2011. DisplaySearch forecasts the large OLED market will grow "in or after 2012, when demand for LCD TVs slows down." Shipments of OLED panels (used primarily in small cell phone displays) are expected to grow about 35% from 2006 to 97.3M units in 2007. This growth, however, represents increased shipments of passive matrix panels employed for sub displays of mobile phones and other portable devices-where the business has been. The long-term OLED-TV numbers in the Displaysearch forecast are based on where the technology is going-and that’s large displays (presumably from AMOLEDs) used to make OLED-TVs.
In the meantime, CDT has been diligently working on improving their OLED materials and technology to the point that at the SID display conference this past Spring, CDT developments in the area of total matrix addressing were labeled as a potential "technology disrupter" by Ross Young of Displaysearch. The breakthrough extends the viability of passive matrix OLED displays, reducing power consumption and even increasing panel size options.
Total matrix addressing extends the size and resolution of PMOLEDs by reducing the peak luminance through innovative driving scheme that can drive multiple rows and columns simultaneously. It results in half the voltage power of conventional PMOLEDs with no active matrix backplane and much higher yields. Total matrix addressing delivers "similar performance" of conventional AMOLEDs, but at half the cost.
And there’s more on the AMOLED front. State of the art AMOLED processing is limited to 4G-sized equipment, but using some of the new processes, like ink-jet printing, developers hope to increase the substrate size.
Back in April-07 CDT partner, TMD announced a new 20.8-inch OLED display using an ink-jet printing process to deposit the three (RGB) color-emitting layers that use polymer organic electroluminescent materials. This approach includes the adoption of a top emission structure, and managing light at the nanometer level in individual pixels to improve the efficiency of distributing light produced from the color-emitting layers. This has contributed to higher brightness and lower power consumption at resolutions of 1280×768 and 16.7M colors.
At SID, Sony also announced a top emitting "Micro Silicon" technology that uses a diode laser thermal annealing process, dubbed "dLTA", and a new laser transfer process where OLED materials are transferred from glass donors to a substrate by laser-induced pattern-wise sublimation process (LIPS for short) to create micro crystalline silicon TFTs. This was the process used to make the 27-inch OLED panels, originally showed at CES in January-07.
So, to say momentum is building in the large display OLED space would be an understatement. The Sumitomo acquisition of CDT is yet another milestone in the march to ultimately replace gating display technology (like backlit LCDs) with next generation emissive OLEDs and the promise of significant image quality advantages and plethora of other benefits like super thin (and eventually flexible) displays.
No doubt, "we are excited at the prospects…" will be the quote of the day as investment and research potential are dramatically enhanced by the merger. Yes, society is ultimately better off as new products and technology may result, perhaps faster under the new corporate giant, but for a moment let’s pay our last respects to an industry pioneer who helped get us here-So long, Cambridge Display Technologies and thank you.