Sharp to Expand IGZO and OLED Production
March 26, 2018
Sharp’s business strategy changed in 2016 when Hon Hai purchased a controlling (66%) stake in the company for $3.5b. Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou already owned a piece of Sharp’s Gen 10 fab, so he was familiar with the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Aside from aggressive plans to revive the once dominant Sharp TV brand, which had languished as the company’s financials worsened, he is now focused on Sharp’s capabilities in using IGZO backplanes for large and small panels. Sharp worked with IGZO since 2012 and has developed processes with better yields than its competitors. As a result, Sharp will ramp up IGZO and OLED production, while paring down LTPS and a-Si. Looking at the plants:
Sharp appears to be making these shifts in backplane and panel production for two reasons. First, it sets them apart from other panel producers that are using a-Si or LTPS. Sharp believes IGZO can support the high pixel density applications at 1/3 the capital cost of LTPS. Second, to further their relationship with Apple, to whom they supply the 4.7” display for the iPhone 8 and for iPad and MacBook panels. If they are able to offer Apple high quality IGZO based LCD displays in larger volumes, they have the potential to increase their Apple business and maybe hedge their previous lack of traction in OLED with IGZO based small panel OLED displays, rather than the LTPS OLED displays being offered by most vendors.
Figure 1: Sharp's 3.4" Flexible OLED Demo -