Micledi bags $30M to ready its microLED displays for augmented reality

Nieke Roos
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Micledi Microdisplays has announced a first closing of its Series A round, bringing the total funding to date to nearly 30 million dollars. It will use the money to commercialize its RGB microLED displays for consumer AR. The four-year-old Leuven-based startup builds on financial support from mothership Imec, its venture capital arm Imec.xpand and the Flemish participation company PMV as well as Belgium’s KBC Bank and the sovereign wealth fund SFPIM. In addition to significant seed investments, it has received non-dilutive funding in the form of grants and other vehicles from VLAIO, Flanders’ innovation and entrepreneurship agency.

Micledi’s technology is based on a combination of III-V materials processing, 3D integration and 300 mm silicon-based processing combined with a proprietary ASIC to provide a self-contained, compact monolithic AR display with high image quality and power efficiency. The seed funding enabled the company to prove best-in-class blue and green GaN-based microLED arrays with pixel-by-pixel microlenses. It did so in a novel wafer manufacturing methodology, the first in the world at 300 mm. Micledi also displayed solid red performance using red GaN material with early proof of superior performance based on red AlInGaP. All three colors, R, G and B, were demonstrated at prominent exhibitions.

Micledi continues to push the envelope of the highest performing microLED arrays on 300 mm wafers – sub-3u pitch, pixel-by-pixel microlenses, > 1 million nits. Credit: Micledi

Thanks to these achievements, the door is now open to engagements with key electronic product manufacturers working on AR displays in such diverse use cases as smart wearables and automotive HUDs, says Micledi CEO Sean Lord. “This newest round of funding will be used to expand the team, design and build an active backplane ASIC and create a fully functional microLED display module that can be used in glasses for AR displays,” Lord adds. “In addition, the new funds will help support collaboration agreements with customers and ensure that we keep pace with the growing demand for increasingly immersive video applications from tier-1 customers and partners in the rapidly growing AR market.”

Industry experts agree that GaN-based material technology is the only pathway to RGB microLED displays that are bright enough to meet the demands of augmented reality as well as other related applications of microdisplays. Together with key customers, Micledi has launched specialty displays to serve these applications while continuing its primary focus on AR for consumer applications. Globalfoundries has agreed to transfer the microLED manufacturing flow into its CMOS fab in conjunction with backplane ASICs designed in its advanced CMOS process nodes.

Coming in 2024, Micledi will have available full-color modules with an active backplane and is developing configurations of all three basic intrinsic color arrays with quantum dot filtering on already brilliant green and blue arrays. In addition, the company will introduce its first demo glasses in the first half of Q2.

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