TCL CSOT CEO Impresses with Vision in Exclusive Interview at Display Week

At Display Week 2024, TCL CSOT CEO Jun Zhao delivered a keynote speech outlining the company’s ambitious plans for Inkjet Printing (IJP) OLED technology. Following his presentation, Zhao spoke with Display Daily about a range of industry issues in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

One of the first topics discussed was pixel density. Zhao’s keynote, reviewed in full below, highlighted that TCL CSOT engineers have achieved over 300 PPI (pixels per inch), surpassing the ‘Retina Display’ standard of 250 PPI. “Clarity is essential for delivering high-quality images, particularly in text-heavy applications,” Zhao explained. “High pixel density is crucial for achieving finer resolution, especially in languages such as Chinese and Japanese.” TCL CSOT showcased a 21.6” Inkjet Prtining OLED medical ultrasound suitcase display for medical applications, which was demonstrated as an ultrasound viewer mock-up. The next product in line is a gaming display, although Zhao did not disclose further details.

When asked about industry trends, Zhao identified the increasing use of OLED displays in mid-sized devices. He mentioned that OLED has already become common in middle to high-end flagship smartphones, and there are future opportunities for OLED in mid-sized displays such as tablets, laptops, and flagship monitors. However, Zhao noted the cost challenge of competing with LCDs in this segment. “While the cost per unit area is higher for OLEDs, the smaller size of smartphones mitigates the impact. In larger displays, the cost becomes a significant factor,” he said.

Zhao highlighted the efficiency of the IJP manufacturing process, which utilizes 90% of the expensive OLED materials, compared to just 30% for the traditional FMM OLED technology. This brings a certain pricing competitiveness for the technology. Despite this efficiency, he clarified that IJP OLEDs will not be dramatically cheaper than other OLEDs. He also pointed out that while MicroLED technology holds promise, it remains too expensive and faces technical challenges compared to the more mature OLED technology.

Discussing the overall structure of the display industry, Zhao emphasized the stability and maturity of the LCD sector. “There are no significant investment plans for LCD, but its mature industry status and cost-efficiency make it hard to displace in markets like TVs and monitors,” Zhao said, adding that substantial investments in competitive technologies are unlikely.

Zhao also touched on regional shifts in the display industry. While Korea focuses on OLED and China on LCD, Zhao emphasized that display is a global business. “TCL CSOT generates 60% of its revenue from overseas clients and does not rely solely on the Chinese market. We expect international sales to grow further,” he noted.

On the topic of artificial intelligence (AI), Zhao expressed optimism. “AI presents huge opportunities, particularly through new applications. AI processors in notebooks and other devices will require more power, which aligns with our strength in low power operation,” Zhao said. TCL CSOT’s 85” 8K Flat Pro display boasts a transmission ratio of 5.6%, comparable to other brands’ 4K displays. The company’s LTPO, LTPS, boasts a transmission ratio of 5.3%, comparable to other brands’ 4K displays. The company’s LTPO, LTPS, and Tandem OLED technologies also enhance power efficiency.

Zhao predicted three distinct effects of AI: faster device replacement cycles, new technological challenges like power consumption, and the development of new AI terminals.

Regarding globalization, Zhao mentioned the potential for production to move closer to consumers to reduce logistics costs, as seen in the CRT industry. TCL CSOT has already established a module factory in India and is considering a second facility. However, Zhao pointed out that relocating production only makes sense if display glass is accessible in the region. TCL CSOT has several glass suppliers, including a strategic partner, AGC from Japan.

Zhao’s Keynote Speech

Zhao’s keynote was a comprehensive overview of TCL CSOT’s milestones, technological advancements, and future aspirations coming on its 15th anniversary.

The core of the speech delved into the specifics of IJP OLED technology, which Zhao asserts as a pioneering advancement in the current display technology landscape. Despite structural changes and emerging technologies in the industry, TCL CSOT’s focus on IJP OLED demonstrates their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation. Zhao outlined several key achievements over the past 11 years since the introduction of IJP OLED in 2013, emphasizing how these developments have enhanced visual experiences, reduced power consumption, and extended product lifespan.

  1. Elevated Visual Experiences:
    • The IJP OLED technology developed by TCL CSOT offers a pixel density exceeding 300 PPI, surpassing the retina display standards of tablets, notebooks, and monitors. This advancement is attributed to high-accuracy inkjet printing techniques, RGB side-by-side strip design, and advanced printing correction algorithms. The result is higher resolution, sharper images, and improved font quality, redefining the visual experience for users.
  2. Reduced Power Consumption:
    • By optimizing material performance, device structure, and overall light output efficiency, TCL CSOT has significantly reduced power consumption. This achievement aligns IJP OLED technology with the power efficiency of FMM-OLED technology, marking a significant step forward in making display technology more energy-efficient.
  3. Extended Product Lifespan:
    • TCL CSOT’s IJP OLED displays meet or exceed the lifespan standards set by FMM-OLED displays. Innovations in organic materials, material photolithography, and lifetime model compensation schemes have contributed to a longer service life for their products, ensuring they remain competitive and reliable.

Additionally, Zhao highlighted the broader benefits of IJP OLED technology, including cost-competitiveness, flexible production, and environmental friendliness:

  • Cost-Competitiveness:
    • The high accuracy of inkjet printing optimizes material utilization, reducing waste and manufacturing costs. The simplicity of IJP’s structure results in a 30% reduction in unit cost compared to FMM, making it a more economically viable option.
  • Flexible Production:
    • IJP OLED’s simpler production process reduces the need for expensive vacuum chambers and eliminates the FMM design, preparation, and replacement, improving flexibility and shortening product development cycles. This flexibility allows for the production of different sizes and resolutions on a single substrate.
  • Environmental Friendliness:
    • The reduced use of EL materials and vacuum equipment significantly lowers carbon emissions. For instance, a medium-sized G8.6 factory can reduce carbon emissions by 500,000 tons per year compared to FMM OLED technology.

Zhao’s speech also touched on future developments, particularly the pioneering IJP QD-EL technology. This technology replaces the luminescent layer in printed OLED displays with quantum dot electroluminescent materials, promising a wider color gamut, reduced power consumption, and enhanced reliability. Zhao mentioned the Blue Star Project, with a $1 million prize to encourage collaboration and breakthroughs in QD-EL technology, highlighting TCL CSOT’s commitment to play a more prominent role in driving broader innovation incentives.