Electronic Design

Batteries Up, AMOLEDs Down, And Camera Modules Shrink

According to an October 2007 report by industry analyst firm NanoMarkets, the market for thin-film and printable batteries will generate revenues of $5.6 billion by the year 2015. Ultra-light and flexible, these power components feature customizable shapes, making them desirable for use in emerging portable electronics as well as viable for adding functionality to existing products like smartcards, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and sensor applications.

The advantages of thin-film and printable batteries are many. Primarily, they’re very cost-effective for volume production, particularly in the RFID, sensor, smartcard, and medical device arenas. The ability to provide inexpensive power is highly attractive. Also, the batteries have the unique ability to extend the useable life of these products, adding another layer of value for the end user.

In financial terms, the report says thin-film and printed- battery markets will gain the most momentum from RFID, generating $4.6 billion in revenues by 2015. Next up, sensors will generate $434 million, with smartcards coming in third at $346 million.

Accenting the strategic importance and vitality of the technologies, the report cites major firms such as Air Products, Dow Chemical, Intel, and NEC as big-time investors in this space. To read a summary of the report, go to www.nanomarkets.net/resources/tfbs.pdf.

Rough Road For AMOLEDs
On the downside, Display- Search research analysts reveal disappointing third-quarter revenues for Samsung SDI’s active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) program. The problem appears to be a glitch in production time.

With a production goal of 1.5 million units, Samsung delivered 100,000 displays in the third quarter of 2007—a significant step down from 350,000 produced in the second quarter. As a result of the production slowdown, the OLED industry reports revenues of $78.3 million in the third quarter, down 31% from the previous quarter and down 38% from the prior year.

The analysts point out that further impact on the production flow came from display maker LGE shifting resources from producing passive-matrix OLEDs to AMOLEDs, shipping only 310,000 units versus 3.1 million in the prior quarter. Another cited player in the decline, Sony forwent AMOLED production as the company geared up to ship the XEL-1, reportedly the market’s first AMOLED television, this month (Fig. 1).

Samsung SDI expects a fast recovery in the fourth quarter, forecasting revenue and shipments to increase by 11% and 7%, respectively. “We are expecting that in 2008, AMOLEDs will drive the industry as TPO, LG Philips, and LGE join Samsung SDI, Sony, and Chi Mei in commercial production,” says Barry Young of Display Search. For more details and figures on the report, visit www.displaysearch.com.

Ready For Their Closeup
Giving a leg up to sensor and camera module manufacturers, Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. offers a contract assembly service for wafer-level chip-scale package (WCSP) semiconductors using through-hole technology (Fig. 2). Manufacturers can use this proprietary technology to develop camera modules that are half the size of conventional modules.

To create a smaller camera module, designers must shrink the image sensor. OKI’s WCSP technology includes a process for creating a through-hole in the silicon substrate, i.e., the image sensor, and inserting an electrode through the hole.

With this technology on the image sensor, users can eliminate wire bonding for camera modules, thereby reducing the size. The technology also places a low-profile cover glass on the image sensor, allowing manufacturers to produce an even thinner module.

The company established its volume production line for through-hole technology-based WCSP assembly in Tokyo in September with production starting in October. Along with semiconductor assembly, Oki will launch a contract manufacturing service for making ultra-small camera modules as part of its e-functional module business. For more, go to www.oki.com.

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