A recent news has caused quite a stir in the industry.
Two months ago, the signing ceremony of the high-generation oxide TFT electronic paper project with a total investment of 8 billion yuan by Hong Kong Yongning Holdings Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Yongning) was held in Yinzhou District, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, marking China's first oxide-based TFT. The electronic paper industrial production line of backplane technology officially landed. What is groundbreaking is that this TFT backplane will adopt the rare earth oxide TFT technology independently developed by South China University of Technology. "The technology has completely independent intellectual property rights, is not restricted by foreign technology and materials, and has a high degree of freedom," said Du Weijie, chairman of Yongning.
As early as 2011, Guangzhou Xinshijie Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Xinshijie) developed the first AMOLED display based on oxide TFT driver in China; in 2013, it developed the first flexible full-color AMOLED display in China. Transparent display, printed display, Micro-LED display and other fields have formed a profound technical accumulation. The “last mile” from the laboratory to the industrialization is often troublesome. South China University of Technology and New Vision have set up a docking platform from laboratory to industrialization by changing their thinking.
The facts also prove the feasibility of the path.
Looking for new material substitutes, breaking through foreign technology monopoly
The scale of the global display industry is as high as several hundred billion yuan or even trillion yuan, which is comparable to IC and energy industries. China is a large display industry. In 2017, China's flat panel display industry exceeded 300 billion yuan, ranking first in the world. It is expected to become the world's largest TFT-LCD flat panel display production base by 2019. However, behind the "first" is big but not strong, the display production still lacks the core technology and raw materials of the independent core, and is "card neck" by the European and American countries. TFT technology is one of them.
TFT, a thin film transistor, is mainly used to control the luminescent pixels of an OLED display. “All displays are made up of pixels. Each pixel must be switched to adjust the working state. The fineness of the adjustment will affect the quality of the display, resolution, response speed, etc. TFT is equivalent to a control pixel. Switch." Wang Lei, general manager of New Vision, said.
In order to optimize the performance of TFT, Chinese scientists have been insisting on exploration. In 2009, Professor Cao Yu’s team member and Professor Peng Junyi from the School of Materials Science and Engineering of South China University of Technology undertook a major project of the “863” flat panel display of the Ministry of Science and Technology, specializing in the core TFT backplane technology of OLED display. Wang Lei, a student of Academician Cao Yu, also participated in it. He said: "There are many kinds of TFT materials and technologies, but we focus on the development of oxide materials."
Why choose oxide materials? "The rate of electron semiconductor materials through thin film transistor devices, called electron mobility in the industry, is a key important technical indicator. The existing amorphous silicon materials in the existing flat panel display production lines have low electron mobility and cannot meet the new display. The production demand of the screen will be phased out. However, if the material of commercial oxide semiconductors invented abroad is used, the performance is low, and China lacks independent intellectual property rights, it is difficult to master the core technology.” Peng Junyi believes that the innovative material system is self The only way to develop. Combining China's rich rare earth resources, he led the team to start with rare earth oxides and find alternatives to new materials.
From 2008 to 2016, after numerous experiments and failures, researchers finally found a new material system for lanthanide rare earth doped oxides in many rare earth oxides. Compared with the IGZO oxide materials of Japan and South Korea, the new material system has the advantages of high mobility, good stability and low manufacturing cost. The ultra-high-resolution OLED display was realized using a TFT device with a new material, which won the first prize of the 2017 Guangdong Science and Technology Award.
Set up a company to promote transformation, change thinking and vitality
"The full introduction of foreign thin-film transistor technology, investment in a production line may be as high as tens of billions of dollars, if the use of our own research and development of technology for industrialization, can greatly reduce costs." In order to promote the industrialization of this independent technology, in 2010, in South China Under the active promotion of the Polytechnic University, the team and the Skyworth Group jointly established a new vision. Wang Lei, a Ph.D. student who has been involved in research on related topics, has become the best person in charge of the company.
Peng Junxi said that laboratory technology is usually left at the theoretical and basic level. If it is further developed, it must be piloted and industrialized in practical applications. From the technical level, the reliability and stability of the technology can be verified to determine whether the technology is “ "useful" to promote its industrialization.
What Wang Lei did not expect was that they had spent seven years from the laboratory to the "last mile" of industrialization.
“The initial idea was very simple. I thought it was just a matter of maturing the technology and then investing in mass production by shareholders.” Wang Lei is still doing his best to do technology, just like doing research in school. It wasn't until 2014 that it suddenly found out that the company's money had been spent, but the product had not yet made money. What is the amount of cash left on the account that is difficult to support the company's operations? What should I do? The strong desire to survive the company prompted him to reflect and change his business thinking.
"From the school with technology, I feel that my technology is strong, so I only sell technology from my own standpoint, the market demand is not so simple." He concluded that technology is also a commodity, technology providers must from the customer's point of view Consider the degree of marketization, consumer perception, supply chain support, and consider how to create value for customers.
“In the school, we have crossed the stage from 0 to 1. In industrialization, we still have a long way to go from 1 to 100. The industrialization of independent technology is also a long process.” Wang Lei said, “only It took four years to build a complete material system."
Thinking changes bring innovation and vitality to the company. The company's operating income has grown year by year since 2014 and has entered a track of steady development. Next, we began to enter the stage of product scale production.
The new potential of the market is huge, opening up a new journey of industrialization
Entering the exhibition hall of New Vision, visitors will immediately be attracted by a curved film. It is only 0.01 mm thick and weighs less than 1 gram. What's amazing is that the film has a high definition, which can display images as well as play video, and even fold into the pocket. This is the first full-color flexible AMOLED display in China that uses oxide TFT technology.
Electronic paper applications are becoming the new darling of the display market, and the future development potential is huge. "Electronic paper with oxide TFT technology is low-energy and low-cost, which is the advantage of its ability to enter thousands of households." Du Weijie has been looking for new investment points in the display field. He is very optimistic about the future development of e-paper. "With the country's proposal for smart city construction and the rise of new retail industry, e-paper is entering a new explosion point."
Confidence in the R&D team and technology has made Du Weijie determined to invest in the new vision of oxide TFT technology. "We often have interactions between us. I understand the technical strength of the new vision and I am optimistic about the development and application of this technology." Du Weijie said.
The oxide TFT electronic paper project was successfully landed, and Wang Lei attributed it to the success of the results transformation model. “Setting up a company with the technology of a scientific research team to start a business is like setting up a platform to connect the needs of laboratories and enterprises and accelerate the connection with the industry.” Wang Lei said that the new vision has three major functions: The original technology for pilot conversion, in fact, is to screen and optimize the original technology in advance; the second is to condense the team, "the technology is good, the equipment is advanced, no one can not perform." Currently, most of the core technology members of New Vision are still from the original “863” project team. At the same time, dozens of professors led by Academician Cao Yu also provided intellectual support for the new vision industry in the form of consultants; thirdly, the market-oriented "inspection stone", through the market to test others to buy and not pay.
Wang Lei, a researcher, is born with a strong sense of crisis in technical iterations. “It takes about 1/2 of the time each year to develop new technologies and maintain technological leadership.” This is exactly what Du Weijie likes most about the team.
"In addition to the production line, we will also plan a large-scale electronic paper module production line and build a new national-level innovation center. After the completion of the project, the annual output value will reach 14 billion yuan." Du Weijie revealed that the project construction is progressing smoothly and is expected to be in the year. After the construction of the factory and production line.
"Using our technology, we can drive the development of the domestic display industry and enhance industrial safety." Wang Lei is full of confidence in the industrialization prospects of the project.