Japan-based Nichia plans to establish a joint venture in southern China in second-half 2018 to produce LED backlighting for smartphones and automotive lighting, according to Nichia Taiwan president Dai Zhen-jia, and a DigitTimes article. Nichia will hold an 18% stake in the joint venture. Other shareholders will include Nichia’ subsidiaries, Taiwan-based optical lens makers and LED epitaxial wafer and chip maker Opto Tech, Dai noted.
The joint venture will develop optical lenses, design ICs, and package mini LEDs, Dai indicated. Dai also noted that for the joint venture, Nichia is negotiating with potential clients about ordering LED devices for smartphone backlighting with shipments scheduled for 2019. Also, Nichia announced plans to set up a plant in western Japan to produce laser diodes for projectors and automotive headlights. The company has scheduled the completion of the factory for the end of January 2019. With the new factory in Japan, Nichia says its laser diode output will more than double the current production level.
Mini LED Backlighting Could Compete with OLED Panels
As LCD TVs trend toward 8K resolution, Nichia plans to offer new mini LED-based backlighting for LCD panels to compete with OLED panels in 1-2 years, Dai indicated in the article.
According to Nichia optoelectronics CTO Takashi Sakamoto in the article, in first-half 2018, Nichia started small-volume fabrication of ultra-thin LED devices for smartphone side-view backlighting, and the company intends to begin large-volume production in the second half of 2018. In addition, Nichia has completed the development of mini LED technology and is waiting on potential clients to finish testing and certification, Sakamoto noted. However, Nichia will not begin producing mini LEDs in 2018 because of bottlenecks in volume production stability, Sakamoto also revealed.
Micro LED Commercialization Four Years Away
Also, despite producing prototypes in the lab, the company does not expect to begin commercializing micro LED technology for four years, Sakamoto explained.