As the name suggests, microLEDs (µLEDs) are very small LEDs (light-emitting diodes) often in the size of a couple of microns. Just as regular LED:s changed the display industry µLED has a huge potential to do the same, replacing todays LCD and OLED technology and enabling novel applications. Research consultancy Yole Dévelopment estimates that by 2027 the µLED display market could reach 420 million units a year. However, to reach that number there are still multiple challenges that need to be solved.

Areas of usage

Due to its superior performance in brightness, pixel density and power efficiency, microLED is an enabling technology in the display industry. Early adopters of µLED are applications in wearables and HUDs where efficiency and high brightness are key factors. Wearables have the potential to target the consumer mass-markets, enabled by microLED. Boasting 50% better efficiency compared to OLED and true micron-sized light emitters, microLED technology is the next generation display technology.

Current Limitations

As of today, there is no large-scale production of microLEDs in the world, because as with all the benefit microLEDs provide it comes with some hurdles to overcome. The biggest hurdle to overcome is by far the scalability of production in a cost-efficient way. Today’s manufacturing standard is going at it with a top-down approach where the microLEDs are produced by etching them out of the material. A process that damages the surface of the structure that has a major impact on the light characteristics lowering overall efficiency of the μLED, especially when the size shrinks. The microLEDs are then placed onto the backplane with a pick and place machine which must operate with a very speed moving hundreds if not thousands of microLEDs parallel with immense precision. But with the amount of microLEDs in a display today this has shown to not be a very viable option for mass production, especially with growing resolution which means more microLEDs that gets smaller.


In 2012 Plessey a UK based semiconductor company acquired CamGaN a university spin-off company focused on microLEDs. Two years later Apple acquired LuxVue also a micro-LEDs focused company and it was the first interest shown by the company in microLEDs. This was the start of what today can be described as an arms race between some of the biggest companies in the world followed by many smaller companies as well as universities that have their own R&D programs.

Both Facebook and Apple have announced that they are aiming to release smart glasses around 2022-2023 that will revolution the wearables and how we interface with technology. A technology that is dependent on micro-LED since they are the only viable solution that promises a light weight structure so it can be worn longer period of time, high brightness so it can be used in ambient light environments, energy efficient so you can sue it for extended periods of time without relying on big batteries that make it bulky. This is only one of many ventures that are being pursued by big companies it is also set to a big contender in the display market both for mobile, monitor and TV use.