Display Imagination!

This week, the center of gravity for Display Imagination is in our neighborhood, San Jose, Calif. It’s Display Week 2022 – where the experts are gathering to reveal new innovations that will thrill consumers.

Kateeva was there with exciting updates to share. Co-Founder Valerie Gassend took the podium yesterday to detail how we are equipping inkjet to help build the imaginative new display technologies.

Valerie’s journey to print tech expert began as a graduate student at MIT. As inkjet helped change the contours of mobile devices bringing flexible and foldable displays to life, she has played a leading role in the tech transition.

We asked her to share highlights from her talk in a Q&A for the Kateeva Blog (KB). Enjoy the discussion.

Kateeva Co-Founder, Valerie Gassend

KB: Kateeva achieved early market leadership for TFE OLED. What new applications are on the horizon for inkjet and how will they advance display innovation?

VG: Our early lead with inkjet generated dividends not just for Kateeva but also for the worldwide display industry. Years of enabling display leaders enriched our learning and helped us scale the technology to address emerging applications.

We started with a system for mobile displays. Today our product line includes solutions for substrates of Gen 8.5 and even larger, and for myriad applications that are fueling exciting innovations for displays.

Take Micro Lens Planarization (MLP), for example. This innovation reduces device power consumption. One way to improve the power efficiency of displays is to increase their light output. This can be achieved by using a micro lens array followed by an inkjet-printed high-refractive index planarization layer. Inkjet is perfectly suited for this application as the ink can flow easily between the patterned lens structures and planarize the top surface.

Hole fill is another emerging application requiring a planarized layer on top of a substrate containing holes. Again, another natural fit for inkjet.

Looking ahead, as display shapes evolve and more phone features are embedded into displays, there will be new requirements in terms of film thicknesses, structures, and topologies. We are eyeing the roadmaps carefully and ready to apply inkjet where it can add breakthrough enabling value.

KB: What was new in your talk?

VG: Inkjet’s advantages as a precision deposition technology for thin films are well established. In yesterday’s talk we showed that we can achieve superior quality films with a range of printhead drop sizes. Our modular design lets us tailor the printhead to the application, so we can use larger drop sizes to drive higher printer throughput without sacrificing film uniformity. As we know, the ability to meet TAKT time requirements in mass production is absolutely imperative.

This year, for the first time, we detailed our Multi-Thickness Area Printing (MTAP) and Multi-Segmented Edge Compensation (MSEC) capabilities. These unique capabilities allow our system to process multiple thicknesses and edge compensations within the same layer. It is an exciting development made possible by our team of print technology experts to address new technical challenges for next-gen displays. Given the positive audience response, we believe it’s a winning capability.

KB: It sounds like a complex dance between sophisticated print software and hardware.

VG: That is correct. The advanced functions like MTAP and MSEC in the software give customers unprecedented flexibility which means they can develop more advanced processes and iterate faster on their designs. It gives them extra firepower to meet tight market windows.

In addition, the flexibility in the hardware lets us choose the optimum printer configuration for the customer’s process needs. For example, in the talk we discussed using an “extended range” printhead to print 4 µm and 14 µm films at fast TAKT time without compromising the thin film quality. The foundational software and print algorithms combine these aspects and others, such as high-speed drop inspection and drop placement correction.

KB: Does the multi-thickness capability present new technical requirements for ink? Can standard ink formulations do the job?

VG: Yes, the new multi-thickness capabilities will work with and adapt to commonly used inks for TFE, which itself continues to evolve, creating new and more challenging requirements. The algorithms and various new printheads are compatible with proper software and hardware modifications to Kateeva’s existing installed base and supported in planned next-gen Kateeva systems.

The new technical imperatives arise from complex process requirements for these additional layers. For example, light extraction in Micro Lens Planarization requires adding a layer higher in the stack than traditional TFE. The new inks must meet the requirements of the process AND inkjet deposition. While the challenge is daunting, it is where Kateeva has a substantial advantage. Because for years we have helped innovate solutions by collaborating with leading global material suppliers. Under this model we help test the ink to get it optimized for inkjet printing while the material vendor works to understand the process requirements with our mutual customers. The partnership model helps shrink time-to-market of new display technologies, while increasing the quality of inkjet-able display materials.

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