5G antennas build inside displays

Dongwoo Finechem, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical in Japan, is promoting the commercialization of 5G antennas with built-in displays. The company’s goal is to generate sales within a year or two.

Dongwoo Finechem started commercializing a display built-in antenna that can be used in ultra-high frequency (mmWave) 5G. The built-in display antenna is a method in which a transparent antenna is built into the display without mounting the antenna inside the smartphone as in the past. Dozens of invisible antennas can be mounted on the screen of an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) or liquid crystal display (LCD) of a smartphone.

In a 5G environment, the mmWave band of 24 gigahertz (GHz) or more can send and receive data much faster than the band below 6 GHz. mmWave 5G is not yet supported in Korea, but it is evaluated as true 5G.

Dongwoo Finechem has expanded the research and development of antennas with built-in displays since 2017. According to Cypris, a patent information search site, Dongwoo Finechem has secured 41 related patents (registered and disclosed) in Korea such as ‘film antenna and display device including the same.’

Last month, a patent that was published a week after filing (application) came out. Patents are generally published after 1 year and 6 months of filing, and if a patent is applied for a derivative technology of the previously registered patent, it will be disclosed as early as this. It is mainly used to secure a dense patent portfolio or to replace existing patents with derivative technologies, but it is often the former. Dongwoo Finechem jointly holds half of its patents with POSTECH Industry-Academic Cooperation.

Dongwoo Finechem has already implemented a display built-in antenna with POSTECH and other companies last year. At the time, the researchers verified the effect of transmitting and receiving wireless communication using a 28GHz signal on an LG Electronics smartphone with an antenna-embedded display at SKT’s 5G device test lab.

Dongwoo Finechem believes that it will take one to two years to generate sales from the 5G antenna business with built-in displays. In Korea, mmWave 5G is not yet supported, so it takes time for a product that uses this band to appear. The antenna with a built-in display can be used as a fingerprint recognition and healthcare sensor in the future.

Dongwoo Finechem’s search for a new business appears to be due to the decrease in sales of its flagship touch film business. The touch film is mainly used in an add-on method that combines a touch screen panel (TSP) with a display. Recently, the on-cell method in which the touch electrode is embedded in the OLED encapsulation (Encap: protecting the light emitting layer from moisture and oxygen) without TSP is increasing. Dongwoo Finechem has been looking for a number of new businesses to replace it.

In fiscal year 2019 (April 2019 to March 2020), Dongwoo Finechem posted sales of KRW 2.67 trillion and operating profit of KRW 220 billion. Year-over-year sales rose 10.1% and operating profit rose 11.0%.