Display Device with Micro Cover Layer and Manufacturing Method for the Same

There is provided a flexible display having a plurality of innovations configured to allow bending of a portion or portions to reduce apparent border size and/or utilize the side surface of an assembled flexible display.

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Description

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

This relates generally to electronic devices, and more particularly, to electronic devices with a display.

2. Description of the Related Art

Electronic devices often include displays. For example, cellular telephones and portable computers include displays for presenting information to a user. Components for the electronic device, including but not limited to a display, may be mounted in the housing made of plastic or metal.

An assembled display may include a display panel and a number of components for providing a variety of functionalities. For instance, one or more display driving circuits for controlling the display panel may be included in a display assembly. Examples of the driving circuits include gate drivers, emission (source) drivers, power (VDD) routing, electrostatic discharge (ESD) circuits, multiplex (mux) circuits, data signal lines, cathode contacts, and other functional elements. There may be a number of peripheral circuits included in the display assembly for providing various kinds of extra functions, such as touch sense or fingerprint identification functionalities.

Some of the components may be disposed on the display panel itself, often in the areas peripheral to the display area, which is referred in the present disclosure as the non-display area and/or the inactive area. When such components are provided in the display panel, they populate a significant portion of the display panel. Large inactive area tends to make the display panel bulky, making it difficult to incorporate it into the housing of electronic devices. Large inactive area may also require a significant portion of the display panel to be covered by overly large masking (e.g., bezel, borders, covering material), leading to unappealing device aesthetics.

Size and weight are of the critical importance in designing modern electronic devices. Also, a high ratio of the active area size compared to that of inactive area, which is sometimes referred to as the screen to bezel ratio, is one of the most desired feature. There is a limit as to how much reduction in the size of the inactive area for higher screen-to-bezel ratio can be realized from mere use of a separate flexible printed circuit (FPC) for connecting components to the display panel. Space requirement for reliably attaching signal cables and to fan out wires along the edges of the display panel still needs to be disposed in the inactive area of the display panel.

It will be highly desirable to bend the base substrate where the active with the pixels and the inactive area are formed thereon. This would truly minimize the inactive area of the display panel that needs to be hidden under the masking or the device housing. Not only does the bending of the base substrate will minimize the inactive area size need to be hidden from view, but it will also open possibility to various new display device designs.

However, there are various new challenges that need to be solved in providing such flexible displays. The components formed directly on the base substrate along with the display pixels tend to have tremendously small dimension with unforgiving margin of errors. Further, these components need to be formed on extremely thin sheet to provide flexibility, making those components extremely fragile to various mechanical and environmental stresses instigated during the manufacture and/or in the use of the displays.

Further complication arises from the fact that the components fabricated directly on the base substrate with the display pixels are often closely linked to the operation of those pixels. If care is not taken, the mechanical stresses from bending of the flexible display can negatively affect the reliability or even result in complete component failure. Even a micro-scale defect in the component thereof can have devastating effects on the performance and/or reliability of the display pixels amounting to scrap the entire display panel without an option to repair.

For instance, a few micrometer scale cracks in the electric wires can cause various abnormal display issues and may even pixels in several rows or sections of the display panel not to be activated at all. As such, various special parameters must be taken in consideration when designing electrical wiring schemes to be fabricated on the flexible base substrate along with the display pixels. Simply increasing the bending radius may make it difficult to garner any significant benefits in flexing the base substrate of the display panel. It would therefore be desirable to provide a flexible display that can operate reliably even under the bending stresses from extreme bending radius.

SUMMARY

An aspect of the present disclosure is related to a flexible display, which includes configurations for wire traces to withstand bending stress for reliable operation of the flexible display.

In one embodiment, a display apparatus includes a base layer with a bend allowance section between a first portion and a second portion. The first portion of the display apparatus includes an active area where a plurality of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) elements is disposed. The display apparatus further includes an encapsulation over the OLED elements. The encapsulation may be provided in a form of a film. A printed circuit film may be provided in the second portion of the display apparatus. The printed circuit film may be a driving circuit for operating the OLED elements. The display apparatus further includes a micro-coating layer, which is disposed over the bend allowance section of the display apparatus.

In some embodiments, the display apparatus includes a plurality of wire traces routed between the first portion and the second portion of the base layer. In this case, the plurality of conductive line traces in the bend allowance section is covered by the micro-coating layer.

In some embodiments, the micro-coating layer can be disposed over at least a part of the encapsulation. More specifically, the display apparatus may include a polarization layer on the encapsulation. The edge of the polarization layer is shifted towards the active area from the edge of the encapsulation. This leaves a part of the upper surface of the encapsulation open, so that the micro-coating layer can cover at least part of the upper surface of the encapsulation exposed between an edge of polarization layer and an edge of the encapsulation. The additional contact area between the micro-coating layer and the surface of the encapsulation can provide stronger bonding between the two. The enhanced sealing between the encapsulation and the micro-coating layer can hinder the moisture and other foreign materials from corroding the wire traces under the micro-coating layer.

In some embodiments, the micro-coating layer covering the upper surface of the encapsulation may include a part where it is spaced apart from the sidewall of the polarization layer. In some embodiments, the micro-coating layer covering the upper surface of the encapsulation may include a part where it is in contact with the sidewall of the polarization layer.

In some embodiments, the display apparatus includes the part where the micro-coating layer is spaced apart from the sidewall of the polarization layer as well as the part where the micro-coating layer is in contact with the sidewall of the polarization layer. The part where the micro-coating layer and the polarization layer contact each other may be located towards the notched edge of the flexible display. The contact between the micro-coating layer and the polarization layer may allow to hold the printed circuit film in position and reduce possible crack generation from unwanted movement of the printed circuit film.

In some embodiments, the micro-coating layer may have higher profile towards the encapsulation than the micro-coating layer in towards the printed circuit film. The lower profile of the micro-coating layer towards the printed circuit film can be advantageous for reducing unwanted space at the rear side of the display apparatus after bending.

The thickness of the micro-coating layer may be substantially uniform between the encapsulation and the printed circuit film. In particular, the difference in thicknesses of the micro-coating layer between the thickest micro-coating layer and the thinnest micro-coating layer in this region may be less than 50 um.

The thickness of the micro-coating layer may be adjust the neutral plane of the display apparatus at the bend portion. The added thickness at the bend portion of the display apparatus by the micro-coating layer can shift the neutral plane towards the plane of the wire traces so that reduced amount of bending stress is applied to the wire traces.

In another aspect, a method of manufacturing a flexible display is provided. In one embodiment, a buffer layer is formed over the base layer. On top of the buffer layer, conductive line traces with a strain reducing pattern. After the conductive line trace is formed on the buffer layer, the base layer is chamfered to create a notched inactive area. The notched inactive area can include a bend allowance section. Since cracks can initiate and propagate from the chamfered or scribed edge of the flexible display, the buffer layer is etched to expose the base layer along strain reducing pattern of the conductive line trace and along the notched line. Although removing the inorganic layer near the notched line can inhibit crack initiation from bending stress it can make the conductive lines vulnerable from moistures and other foreign materials. Accordingly, a micro-coating layer is dispensed in the notched inactive area. The micro-coating layer may be dispensed in a resinous form. The micro-coating layer is then cured by irradiation of light.

In some embodiments, the micro-coating layer can be dispensed by using a jetting valve. The dispensing speed from the jetting valve may be adjusted during the dispensing process for accurate control of the thickness and the spread size of the micro-coating layer at the targeted surface. Further, additional number of jetting values may be used to reduce the dispense time and limit the amount of spread before the micro-coating layer is cured through UV irradiation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A-1C illustrate schematic view of an exemplary flexible display device according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 2A-2B illustrate schematic view of an exemplary flexible display device according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 illustrates schematic plane view and corresponding cross-sectional view of bending pattern, which may be employed in embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 4A-4B illustrate schematic view of an exemplary multi-layered conductive lines usable in a flexible display device according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 5A-5B illustrate schematic view of an exemplary configuration of multi-layered conductive lines and insulation layers according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6A illustrates schematic view of an exemplary configuration of recessed channel and crack deflection metal/insulation trace according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 6B-6C illustrate schematic view of an exemplary configuration buffer etched area provided in between the notched line and the bend allowance section.

FIG. 7 is a schematic view of single line wire trace design usable for flexible displays according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 8A-8D illustrate schematic view of an exemplary wire traces having a plurality of sub-traces that split and merge at a certain interval according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 9A-9B illustrate schematic view of an exemplary wire traces crossing recessed area of the flexible display according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 10A-C illustrate schematic views of the flexible display provided with a micro-coating layer according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 11A-B illustrate schematic views of embodiments of the flexible display in a bent state, which are provided with a micro-coating layer according to embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1A-1C illustrate exemplary flexible display 100 which may be incorporated in electronic devices. Referring to FIG. 1A, the flexible display 100 includes at least one active area (i.e., display area), in which an array of display pixels are formed therein. One or more inactive areas may be provided at the periphery of the active area. That is, the inactive area may be adjacent to one or more sides of the active area. In FIG. 1A, the inactive area surrounds a rectangular shape active area. However, it should be appreciated that the shapes of the active area and the arrangement of the inactive area adjacent to the active area are not particularly limited as the exemplary flexible display 100 illustrated in FIG. 1A. The active area and the inactive area may be in any shape suitable to the design of the electronic device employing the flexible display 100. Non-limiting examples of the active area shapes in the flexible display 100 include a pentagonal shape, a hexagonal shape, a circular shape, an oval shape, and more.

Each pixel in the active area may be associated with a pixel circuit, which includes at least one switching thin-film transistor (TFT) and at least one driving TFT. Each pixel circuit may be electrically connected to a gate line and a data line to communicate with the driving circuits, such as a gate driver and a data driver, which are positioned in the inactive area of the flexible display 100.

For example, one or more driving circuits may be implemented with TFTs fabricated in the inactive area as depicted in FIG. 1A. Such gate drivers may be referred to as a gate-in-panel (GIP). Also, some of the components, such as data drive-IC, may be mounted on a separate printed circuit and coupled to a connection interface (Pads/Bumps) disposed in the inactive area using a printed circuit film such as flexible printed circuit board (FPCB), chip-on-film (COF), tape-carrier-package (TCP) or any other suitable technologies. As will be described in further detail below, the inactive area with the connection interface can be bent away from the central portion so that the printed circuit film, such as the COF, FPCB and the like, is positioned at the rear side of the flexible display 100 to reduce the size of the inactive area to be hidden by a bezel.

The flexible display 100 may include various additional components for generating a variety of signals or otherwise operating the pixels in the active area. For example, an inverter circuit, a multiplexer, an electro static discharge (ESD) circuit and the like may be placed in the inactive area of the flexible display 100.

The flexible display 100 may also include components associated with functionalities other than for operating the pixels of the flexible display 100. For instance, the flexible display 100 may include components for providing a touch sensing functionality, a user authentication functionality (e.g., finger print scan), a multi-level pressure sensing functionality, a tactile feedback functionality and/or various other functionalities for the electronic device employing the flexible display 100. These components can be placed in the inactive area or provided on a separate printed circuit that is connected to the connection interface of the flexible display 100.

In some embodiments, the backplane of the flexible display 100 can be implemented with TFTs using low-temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) semiconductor layer as its active layer. Accordingly, the pixel circuit and the driving circuits (e.g., GIP) are implemented with NMOS LTPS TFTs. In some other embodiments, the backplane of the flexible display 100 may be implemented with a combination of N-Type LTPS TFTs and P-Type LTPS TFTs. For instance, the flexible display 100 may be provided with a CMOS GIP, implemented by using both the N-Type LTPS TFTs and P-Type LTPS TFTs.

Further, in some embodiments, the flexible display 100 may employ multiple kinds of TFTs to implement the driving circuits in the inactive area and/or the pixel circuits in the active. That is, a combination of an oxide semiconductor TFT and an LTPS TFT may be used to implement the backplane of the flexible display 100. In the backplane, the type of TFTs may be selected according to the operating conditions and/or requirements of the TFTs within the corresponding circuit.

Low-temperature-poly-silicon (LTPS) TFTs generally exhibit excellent carrier mobility even at a small profile, making them suitable for implementing condensed driving circuits. The excellent carrier mobility of the LTPS TFT makes it an ideal for components requiring a fast speed operation. Despite the aforementioned advantages, initial threshold voltages may vary among the LTPS TFTs due to the grain boundary of the poly-crystallized silicon semiconductor layer.

On the other hand, a TFT employing an oxide material based semiconductor layer such as an indium-gallium-zinc-oxide (IGZO) semiconductor layer (referred hereinafter as “the oxide TFT”), is different from the LTPS TFT in many respects. Although the oxide TFT has a lower mobility than the LTPS TFT, the oxide TFT is generally more advantageous than the LTPS TFT in terms of reducing the leakage current during its off state. In other words, the oxide TFT generally exhibits a higher voltage-holding ratio (VHR) than that of the LTPS TFT. The higher VHR of the oxide TFT can be of a great advantage for driving the pixels at a reduced frame rate when a high frame rate driving of the pixels is not needed.

In some embodiments, the flexible display 100 may be provided with a feature in which the pixels of the entire active area or selective portion of the active area are driven at a reduced frame rate under a specific condition. In way of an example, the pixels can be refreshed at a reduced refresh rate depending on the content displayed from the flexible display 100. Also, part of the active area displaying a still image data (e.g., user interface, text) may be refreshed at a lower rate than other part of the active area displaying rapidly changing image data (e.g., movie). The pixels driven at a reduced refresh rate may have an increased blank period, in which the data signal is not provided to the pixels. This would minimize the power wasted from providing the pixels with the same image data. In such embodiments, oxide TFTs can be used for some of the TFTs implementing the pixel circuits and/or the driving circuits of the flexible display 100 to minimize the leakage current during the blank period. By reducing the current leakage from the pixel circuits and/or the driving circuits, more stable level of brightness can be achieved from the pixels even when they are refreshed at a reduced rate.

In terms of stability, oxide TFTs do not suffer from the transistor-to-transistor initial threshold voltage variation issue as much as the LTPS TFTs. Such property can be of a great advantage if the flexible display 100 is large. On the other hand, the LTPS TFT may be better than the oxide TFT in terms of the positive bias temperature stress (PBTS) and the negative bias temperature stress (NBTIS), which may cause unwanted threshold voltage shift during the use of the flexible display 100.

Considering the pros and cons of LTPS TFT and oxide TFT, some embodiments of the flexible display 100 disclosed herein may employ a combination of the LTPS TFT and the oxide TFT. In particular, some embodiments of the flexible display 100 can employ LTPS TFTs to implement the driving circuits (e.g., GIP) in the inactive area and employ oxide TFTs to implement the pixel circuits in the active area. Due to the excellent carrier mobility of the LTPS TFT, driving circuits implemented with LTPS TFTs may operate at a faster speed than the driving circuits implemented with the oxide TFTs. In addition, more condensed driving circuits can be provided with the LTPS TFT, which reduces the size of the inactive area in the flexible display 100.

With the excellent voltage holding ratio of the oxide TFTs used in the pixel circuits, leakage from the pixels can be reduced. This also enables to refresh pixels in a selective portion of the active area or to drive pixels at a reduced frame rate under a predetermined condition (e.g., when displaying still images) while minimizing display defects caused by the leakage current.

In some embodiments, the driving circuits in the inactive area of the flexible display 100 may be implemented with a combination of N-Type LTPS TFTs and P-Type LTPS TFTs while the pixel circuits are implemented with oxide TFTs. For instance, N-Type LTPS TFTs and P-Type LTPS TFTs can be used to implement CMOS gate driver (e.g., CMOS GIP) whereas oxide TFTs are employed in at least some part of the pixel circuits. Unlike the GIP formed entirely of either the P-type or N-type LTPS TFTs, the gate out node from the CMOS gate driver can be controlled by DC signals, and this allows for more stable control of the gate out node during the blank period.

It should be noted that the CMOS gate driver can be implemented by using a combination of LTPS TFTs and oxide TFTs. Likewise, in some embodiments, the pixel circuits in the active area can be implemented by using both the LTPS TFTs and the oxide TFTs. When employing both kinds of TFTs in the pixel circuit and/or the driving circuit, the LTPS TFT can be used for TFTs of the circuit, which are subjected to extended period of bias stress (e.g., PBTS, NBTIS). In addition, the TFTs in a circuit, which are connected to a storage capacitor, can be formed of the oxide TFT to minimize leakage therefrom.

Parts of the flexible display 100 may be defined by a central portion and a bend portion. In reference to a bend line BL, the part of the flexible display 100 that remains substantially flat is referred to as the central portion or the substantially flat portion, whereas the other part of the flexible display 100 at the other side of the bend line BL is referred to as the bend portion. It should be noted that the central portion of the flexible display 100 needs not be perfectly flat. While the central portion of the flexible display 100 is relatively more flat than the bend portion, the central portion can be curved-in or curved-out as depicted in FIG. 1B. In other words, one or more bend portions exist next to the convex or concave central portion, and bent inwardly or outwardly along the bend line at a bend angle around a bend axis. Within a bend portion, the part that has a curvature in an inclination angle or in a declination angle from the substantially flat portion may be specified as the bend allowance section of the bend portion.

Multiple parts of the flexible display 100 can be bent along the bend line BL. The bend line BL in the flexible display 100 may extend horizontally (e.g., X-axis shown in FIG. 1A), vertically (e.g., Y-axis shown in FIG. 1A) or even diagonally. Accordingly, the flexible display 100 can be bent in any combination of horizontal, vertical and/or diagonal directions based on the desired design of the flexible display 100.

One or more edges of the flexible display 100 can be bent away from the plane of the central portion along the bend line BL. Although the bend line BL is depicted as being located near the edges of the flexible display 100, it should be noted that the bend lines BL can extend across the central portion or extend diagonally at one or more corners of the flexible display 100. Such configurations would allow the flexible display 100 to provide a foldable display or a double-sided display having display pixels on both outer sides of a folded display.

FIG. 1C is a simplified cross-sectional view of an exemplary flexible display 100 in a bent state. As illustrated in FIG. 1C, the central portion of the flexible display 100 may be substantially flat, and one or more bend portions may be bent away from the tangent vector of the curvature at a certain bend angle and a bend radius around the bending axis. The size of each bend portion that is bent away from the central portion needs not be the same. That is, the length of the base layer 106 from the bend line BL to the outer edge of the base layer 106 at each bend portion can be different from other bend portions. Also, the bend angle around the bend axis and the bend radius from the bend axis can vary between the bend portions.

In the example shown in FIG. 1C, one of the bend portion (right side) has the bend angle θ of 90°, and the bend portion includes a substantially flat section. The bend portion can be bent at a larger bend angle θ, such that at least some part of the bend portion comes underneath the plane of the central portion of the flexible display 100 as one of the bend portion (left side). Also, a bend portion can be bent at a bend angle θ that is less than 90°.

In some embodiments, the radius of curvatures (i.e., bend radius) for the bend portions in the flexible display 100 may be between about 0.1 mm to about 10 mm, more preferably between about 0.1 mm to about 5 mm, more preferably between about 0.1 mm to about 1 mm, more preferably between about 0.1 mm to about 0.5 mm. The lowest bend radius of the bend portion of the flexible display 100 may be less than 0.5 mm.

As shown in FIG. 1C, an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) element layer 102 is disposed on the base layer 106, and an encapsulation 104 is disposed on the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) element layer 102. The flexible display 100 also includes a support member 116, which may be referred to as a “mandrel.” The support member 116 has an elongated body portion and a rounded end portion. The base layer 106 and the support member 116 are arranged so that that the rounded end portion of the support member 116 is positioned in the bend portion of the base layer 106. The rounded end portion of the support member 116 provides support for the base layer 106 at the bend portion. A part of the base layer 106 may come around the rounded end portion of the support member 116 and be positioned at the underside the support member 116 as depicted in FIG. 1C. In this way, the circuits mounted on the chip-on-flex (COF) cable and/or the printed circuit board (PCB) can be placed at the rear of the flexible display 100.

The flexible display 100 includes one or more support layers 108 for providing rigidity at the selective portion of the flexible display 100. The support layer 108 is attached on the inner surface of the base layer 106, which is the opposite from the surface having the OLED element layer 102 disposed thereon. Increase in the rigidity at selective parts of the flexible display 100 may help in ensuring the accurate configuration and placement of the components of the flexible display 100.

The base layer 106 and the support layer 108 may each be made of a thin plastic film formed from polyimide, polyethylene naphthalate (PEN), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), other suitable polymers, a combination of these polymers, etc. However, the support layer 108 should be more rigid than the base layer 106. Other suitable materials that may be used to form the base layer 106 and the support layer 108 include, a thin glass, a metal foil covered with a dielectric material, a multi-layered polymer stack and a polymer composite film comprising a polymer material combined with nanoparticles or micro-particles dispersed therein, etc.

Excessively high thickness of the base layer 106 makes it difficult to be bent at an extremely small bending radius desired at some bend portion of the flexible display 100. Excessively high thickness of the base layer 106 may also increase the mechanical stress to the components disposed thereon on the base layer 106. As such, the thickness of the base layer 106 may depend on the bend radius at the bend portion of the base layer 106. On the other hand, the base layer 106 with a thickness below a certain level may not be strong enough to reliably support various components disposed thereon.

Accordingly, the base layer 106 may have a thickness in a range of about from 5 μm to about 50 μm, more preferably in a range of about 5 μm to about 30 μm, and more preferably in a range of about 5 μm to about 16 μm. The support layer 108 may have a thickness from about 100 μm to about 125 μm, from about 50 μm to about 150 μm, from about 75 μm to 200 μm, less than 150 μm, or more than 100 μm. In one suitable exemplary configuration, the base layer 106 is formed from a layer of polyimide with a thickness of about 10 μm and the support layer 108 is formed from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) with a thickness of about 100 μm to about 125 μm.

The base layer 106 may be a transparent layer. Part of the flexible display 100 may be exposed to external light passing through the base layer 106. Some of the components or materials used in fabricating the components disposed on the base layer 106 may undergo undesirable state changes due to the light exposure during the manufacturing of the flexible display 100. Some parts of the flexible display 100 may be more heavily exposed to the external light than others, and this can lead to a display non-uniformity (e.g., mura, shadow defects, etc.). To minimize such problems, the base layer 106 and/or the support layer 108 may include one or more materials capable of reducing the amount of external light passing through in some embodiments of the flexible display 100.

In way of an example, the light blocking material, for instance chloride modified carbon black, may be mixed in the constituent material of the base layer 106 (e.g., polyimide) so that the base layer 106 can provides a light blocking functionality. In this way, the base layer 106 may formed of polyimide with a shade. Such a shaded base layer 106 can also improve the visibility of the image content displayed on the flexible display 100 by reducing the reflection of the external light coming in from the front side of the flexible display 100.

Instead of the base layer 106, the support layer 108 may include a light blocking material to reduce the amount of light coming in from the rear side (i.e., the support layer 108 attached side) of the flexible display 100. The constituent material of the support layer 108 may be mixed with one or more light blocking materials in the similar fashion as described above with the base layer 106. Further, both the base layer 106 and the support layer 108 can include one or more light blocking materials. Here, the light blocking materials used in the base layer 106 and the support layer 108 need not be the same.

While making the base layer 106 and the support layer 108 to block the unwanted external light may improve display uniformity and reduce reflection as described above, it can create a number of difficulties during manufacturing of the flexible display 100. When the base layer 106 and the support layer 108 are non-transmittable to an excessive range of wavelengths of light, recognizing the alignment marks on these layers during their alignment process may not be easy. In particular, accurate positioning of the components on the base layer 106 or the alignment during bending of the flexible display 100 can become difficult, as the positioning of the layers may need to be determined by comparing the outer edges of the overlapping portions of the layer(s). Further, checking for unwanted debris or other foreign materials in the flexible display 100 can be problematic if the base layer 106 and/or the support layer 108 blocks the excessive range(s) of light spectrum (i.e., wavelengths in the visible, the ultraviolet and the infrared spectrum).

Accordingly, in some embodiments, the light blocking material, which may be included in the base layer 106 and/or the support layer 108 is configured to pass the light of certain polarization and/or the light within specific wavelength ranges usable in one or more manufacturing and/or testing processes of the flexible display 100. In way of an example, the support layer 108 may pass the light used in the quality check, alignment processes (e.g., UV, IR spectrum light) during the manufacturing the flexible display 100 but filter the light in the visible light wavelength range. The limited range of wavelengths can help reduce the display non-uniformity problem, which may be caused by the shadows generated by the printed circuit film attached to base layer 106, especially if the base layer 106 includes the light blocking material as described above.

It should be noted that the base layer 106 and the support layer 108 can work together in blocking and passing specific types of light. For instance, the support layer 108 can change the polarization of light, such that the light will not be passable through the base layer 106. This way, certain type of light can penetrate through the support layer 108 for various purposes during manufacturing of the flexible display 100, but unable to penetrate through the base layer 106 to cause undesired effects to the components disposed on the opposite side of the base layer 106.

As shown in FIG. 1B, the flexible display 100 may also include a polarization layer 110 for controlling the display characteristics (e.g., external light reflection, color accuracy, luminance, etc.) of the flexible display 100. A cover layer 114, which may be a glass layer, may be used to protect the flexible display 100. Electrodes for sensing touch input from a user may be formed on an interior surface of a cover layer 114 and/or at least one surface of the polarization layer 110.

The flexible display 100 may further include a separate layer that includes the touch sensor electrodes and/or other components associated with sensing of touch input (referred hereinafter as touch-sensor layer 112). The touch sensor electrodes (e.g., touch driving/sensing electrodes) may be formed from transparent conductive material such as indium tin oxide, carbon based materials like graphene or carbon nanotube, a conductive polymer, a hybrid material made of mixture of various conductive and non-conductive materials. Also, metal mesh (e.g., aluminum mesh, silver mesh, etc.) can also be used as the touch sensor electrodes.

The touch sensor layer 112 may include a layer formed of one or more deformable dielectric materials. One or more electrodes may be interfaced with or positioned near the touch sensor layer 112, and loaded with one or more signals to facilitate measuring electrical changes on one or more of the electrodes upon deformation of the touch sensor layer 112. The measurement may be analyzed to assess the amount of pressure at a plurality of discrete levels and/or ranges of levels on the flexible display 100.

In some embodiments, the touch sensor electrodes can be utilized in identifying the location of the user inputs as well as assessing the pressure of the user input. Identifying the location of touch input and measuring of the pressure of the touch input on the flexible display 100 may be achieved by measuring changes in capacitance from the touch sensor electrodes on one side of the touch sensor layer 112. Also, measuring the amount of pressure may utilize at least one electrode other than the touch sensor electrodes to measure at least one other signal, which may be obtained simultaneously with the touch signal from the touch sensor electrodes or obtained at a different timing.

The deformable material included in the touch sensor layer 112 may be an electro-active material, which the amplitude and/or the frequency of the deformation is controlled by an electrical signal and/or electrical field. The examples of such deformable materials include piezo ceramic, electro-active-polymer (EAP) and the like. Accordingly, the touch sensor electrodes and/or separately provided electrode can activate the deformable material to bend the flexible display 100 to desired directions. In addition, such electro-active materials can be activated to vibrate at desired frequencies, thereby providing tactile and/or texture feedback on the flexible display 100. It should be appreciated that the flexible display 100 may employ a plurality of electro-active material layers so that bending and vibration of the flexible display 100 can be provided simultaneously or at a different timing. Such a combination can be used in creating sound waves from the flexible display 100.

As mentioned above, bending the inactive area allows to minimize or to eliminate the inactive area to be seen from the front side of the assembled flexible display 100. Part of the inactive area that remains visible from the front side can be covered with a bezel. The bezel may be formed, for example, from a stand-alone bezel structure that is mounted to the cover layer 114, a housing or other suitable components of the flexible display 100. The inactive area remaining visible from the front side may also be hidden under an opaque masking layer, such as black ink (e.g., a polymer filled with carbon black) or a layer of opaque metal. Such an opaque masking layer may be provided on a portion of the layers included in the flexible display 100, such as the touch sensor layer 112, the polarization layer 110, the cover layer 114, and other suitable layers.

Referring back to FIG. 1A, the bend portion of the flexible display 100 may include an active area capable of displaying image from the bend portion, which is referred herein after as the secondary active area. That is, the bend line BL can be positioned in the active area so that at least some display pixels of the active area is included in the bend portion of the flexible display 100. In this case, the matrix of pixels in the secondary active area of the bend portion may be continuously extended from the matrix of the pixels in the active area of the central portion as depicted in FIG. 2A. Alternatively, the secondary active area within the bend portion and the active area within the central portion of the flexible display 100 may be separated apart from each other by the bend allowance section as depicted in FIG. 2B.

The secondary active area in the bend portion may serve as a secondary display area in the flexible display 100. The size of the secondary active area is not particularly limited. The size of the secondary active area may depend on its functionality within the electronic device. For instance, the secondary active area may be used to provide images and/or texts such a graphical user interface, buttons, text messages, and the like. In some cases, the secondary active area may be used to provide light of various colors for various purposes (e.g., status indication light), and thus, the size of the secondary active area need not be as large as the active area in the central portion of the flexible display 100.

The pixels in the secondary active area and the pixels in the central active area may be addressed by the driving circuits (e.g., gate driver, data driver, etc.) as if they are in a single matrix. In this case, the pixels of the central active area and the pixels of the secondary active area may be operated by the same set of driving circuits. In way of example, the Nth row pixels of the central active area and the Nth row pixels of the secondary active area may be configured to receive the gate signal from the same gate driver. As shown in FIG. 2B, the part of the gate line crossing over the bend allowance section (i.e., bend allowance region) or a bridge for connecting the gate lines of the two active areas may have a bend stress reduction design, which will be described in further detail below.

Depending on the functionality of the secondary active area, the pixels of the secondary active area can be driven discretely from the pixels in the central active area. That is, the pixels of the secondary active area may be recognized by the display driving circuits as being an independent matrix of pixels separate from the matrix of pixels in the central active area. In such cases, the pixels of the central active area and the pixels of the secondary active area may receive signals from at least one discrete driving circuit from the driving circuits employed by the central active area.

Components of the flexible display 100 may make it difficult to bend the flexible display 100 along the bend line BL. Some of the elements, such as the support layer 108, the touch sensor layer 112, the polarization layer 110 and the like, may add too much rigidity to the flexible display 100. Also, the thickness of such elements shifts the neutral plane of the flexible display 100 and thus some of the components may be subject to greater bending stresses than other components.

To facilitate easier bending and to enhance the reliability of the flexible display 100, the configuration of components in the bend portion of the flexible display 100 differs from the substantially flat portion of the flexible display 100. Some of the components existing in the substantially flat portion may not be disposed in the bend portions of the flexible display 100, or may be provided in a different thickness. The bend portion may free of the support layer 108, the polarization layer 110, the touch sensor layer 114, a color filter layer and/or other components that may hinder bending of the flexible display 100. Such components may not be needed in the bend portion if the bend portion is to be hidden from the view or otherwise inaccessible to the users of the flexible display 100.

Even if the secondary active area is in the bend portion for providing information to users, the secondary active area may not require some of these components depending on the usage and/or the type of information provided by the secondary active area. For example, the polarization layer 110 and/or color filter layer may not be needed in the bend portion when the secondary active area is used for simply emitting colored light, displaying texts or simple graphical user interfaces in a contrast color combination (e.g., black colored texts or icons in white background). Also, the bend portion of the flexible display 100 may be free of the touch sensor layer 114 if such functionality is not needed in the bend portion. If desired, the bend portion may be provided with a touch sensor layer 112 and/or the layer of electro-active material even though the secondary active area for displaying information is not provided in the bend portion.

Since the bend allowance section is most heavily affected by the bend stress, various bend stress-reducing features are applied to the components on the base layer 106 of the bend allowance section. To this end, some of the elements in the central portion may not be formed in at least some part of the bend portion. The separation between the components in the central portion and the bend portion may be created by selectively removing the elements at the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100 such that the bend allowance section is free of the respective elements.

As depicted in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the support layer 108A in the central portion and the support layer 108B in the bend portion can be separated from each other by the absence of the support layer 108 under the base layer 106 at the bend allowance section. Instead of using the support layer 108 attached to the base layer 106, the rounded end portion of the support member 116 can be positioned underside of the base layer 106 at the bend allowance section as described above. Various other components, for example the polarization layer 110 and the touch sensor layer 114 and more, may also be absent from the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100. The removal of the elements may be done by cutting, wet etching, dry etching, scribing and breaking, or other suitable material removal methods. Rather than cutting or otherwise removing an element, separate pieces of the element may be formed at the central portion and the bend portion to leave the bend allowance section free of such element. Some components in the central portion and the bend portion can be electrically connected via one or more conductive line trace 120 laid across the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100.

Instead of being entirely removed from the bend portion, some elements may be provided with a bend pattern along the bend lines or otherwise within the bend allowance section to reduce the bend stress. FIG. 3 illustrates a plane view and a cross-sectional view of exemplary bend patterns 300. It should be noted that the order of the bend patterns illustrated in the plane view of the flexible display 100 do not necessarily match with the order of bend patterns illustrated in the cross sectional view of the flexible display 100 in FIG. 3. The bend patterns 300 described above may be used in the support layer 108, the polarization layer 110, the touch sensor layer 114 and various other elements of the flexible display 100.

The flexible display 100 may utilize more than one types of bend patterns. It should be appreciated that a number of bend patterns and the types of the bend patterns 300 utilized by the components is not limited. If desired, the depth of the patterns may not be deep enough to penetrate through the component entirely but penetrate only partially through the respective layer. In addition, a buffer layer positioned between the base layer 106 and the TFT as well as a passivation layer covering a conductive line trace may be also be provided with the bend pattern for reducing bend stress.

Several conductive lines are included in the flexible display 100 for electrical interconnections between various components therein. The circuits fabricated in the active area and inactive area may transmit various signals via one or more conductive lines to provide a number of functionalities in the flexible display 100. As briefly discussed, some conductive lines may be used to provide interconnections between the circuits and/or other components in the central portion and the bend portion of the flexible display 100.

As used herein, the conductive lines broadly refers to a conductive path for transmitting any type of electrical signals, power and/or voltages from one point to another point in the flexible display 100. As such, the conductive lines may include source/drain electrodes of the TFTs as well as the gate lines/data lines used in transmitting signals from some of the display driving circuits (e.g., gate driver, data driver) in the inactive area to the pixel circuits in the active area. Likewise, some conductive lines, such as the touch sensor electrodes, pressure sensor electrodes and/or fingerprint sensor electrodes may provide signals for sensing touch input or recognizing fingerprints on the flexible display 100. The conductive lines can also provide interconnections between the pixels of the active area in the central portion and the pixels of the secondary active area in the bend portion of the flexible display 100. Aforementioned functionalities of conductive lines in the flexible display 100 are merely illustrative.

Some of the conductive lines may be extended from the substantially flat portion of the flexible display 100 to the bend portion of the flexible display 100. In such cases, some portions of the conductive lines may be configured differently from the other portions to withstand the bending stress. In particular, the portion of the conductive lines laid over the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100 may include several features for reducing cracks and fractures of the conductive lines to maintain proper interconnection.

First, some conductive lines of the flexible display 100 may have a multi-layered structure, which may allow more flexibility with less chance of breakage. FIGS. 4A and 4B each illustrates exemplary stack structure of the conductive line trace 120.

In FIG. 4A, the conductive line trace 120 may have a multi-layered structure in which the primary conductive layer 122 is sandwiched between the secondary conductive layers 124. The primary conductive layer 122 may be formed of material with a lower electrical resistance than that of the secondary conductive layer 144. Non-limiting examples of the materials for the primary conductive layer 122 includes copper, aluminum, transparent conductive oxide, or other flexible conductors. The secondary conductive layer 124 should be formed of conductive material that can exhibit sufficiently low ohmic contact resistance when formed in a stack over the primary conductive layer 122.

Examples of such combination include an aluminum layer sandwiched between titanium layers (Ti/Al/Ti), an aluminum layer sandwiched between upper and lower molybdenum layers (Mo/Al/Mo), a copper layer sandwiched between titanium layers (Ti/Co/Ti) and a copper layer sandwiched between upper and lower molybdenum layers (Mo/Co/Mo). However, the low ohmic contact resistance of the conductive layer stack is not the only factor for choosing the materials for the conductive line trace 120 used in the flexible display 100.

The materials for forming the conductive line trace 120 should meet the minimum Young's modulus requirement while meeting the stringent electrical and thermal requirements of the flexible display 100 (e.g., resistance, heat generation, etc.). Accordingly, both the primary conductive layer 122 and the secondary conductive layer 124 should be formed of materials exhibiting low brittleness (E). In this regard, Al has a modulus of about 71 GPa, Ti has a modulus of 116 GPa, and Mo has a modulus of 329 GPa. As such, the brittleness (E) of Al is about ¼ of that of Mo, and the brittleness (E) of Ti is about ⅓ of that of Mo. Accordingly, in some embodiments, at least some of the conductive lines 120 of the flexible display 100 are formed of a stack including Al and TI. Unlike Mo, both Al and Ti exhibited no cracks at the bend radius of 0.5 mm.

Since the primary conductive layer 122 should have lower electrical resistance than the secondary conductive layer 124, the conductive line trace 120 may be formed in a stack of Ti/Al/Ti. In particular, at least some of the conductive lines 120 disposed in the bend allowance section may be formed in a stack of Ti/Al/Ti.

In some embodiments, the flexible display 100 may be employed in a wearable electronic device. In such cases, the flexible display 100 may be used under highly humid environment. In some cases, moistures can reach the conductive line trace 120. Dissimilar metals and alloys have different electrode potentials, and when two or more come into contact in an electrolyte, one metal acts as anode and the other as cathode. The electro-potential difference between the dissimilar metals is the driving force for an accelerated attack on the anode member of the galvanic couple, which is the primary conductive layer 122 in the Ti/Al/Ti stack. The anode metal dissolves into the electrolyte, and deposit collects on the cathodic metal. Due to Al layer corrosion, electrical characteristics of the conductive line trace 120 may be deteriorated or completely lost.

Typically, galvanic corrosion is initiated by the electrolyte that is in contact at the cross-sectional side of a multi-layered conductive line trace 120. Accordingly, in some embodiments, at least some conductive lines 120 is provided with a structure in which the primary conductive layer 122 is surrounded by the secondary conductive layer 124 such that the primary conductive layer 122 are covered by the secondary conductive layer 124 as shown in FIG. 4B. This can minimize the loss of primary conductive layer 122 by galvanic corrosion, and further reduce probability of severance of electrical conductivity.

Such a multi-layered conductive lines 120 can be created by first depositing the material for the primary conductive layer 122 (e.g., Al) over the secondary conductive layer 124 (e.g., Ti). Here, the secondary conductive layer 124 underneath the primary conductive layer 122 may have greater width. Etch resist material is formed over the stack of these two layers and etched (e.g., dry etch, wet etch, etc.) to form a desired a conductive line trace (e.g., diamond trace design). After striping the etch resistance material, another layer of secondary conductive layer 124 (i.e., Ti) is deposited over the patterned structure (i.e., Ti/Al). Again, the secondary conductive layer 124 on top of the primary conductive layer 122 may have greater width such that the primary conductive layer 122 is enclosed within the secondary conductive layer 124. Another round of dry etching and striping of the etch resistance material is performed to form the stack of the multi-layered structure (i.e., Ti/Al/Ti) in a desired conductive line trace design.

Various insulation layers, such as the a buffer layer 126, the passivation layer 128, a gate insulation layer (GI layer) and an interlayer dielectric layer (ILD layer) may be formed at the lower and/or upper side of the conductive line trace 120. These insulation layers may be formed of organic and/or inorganic materials or include a sub-layer formed of inorganic materials.

A layer of inorganic material is generally less ductile than the metals of the conductive lines 120. Given the same amount of bending stress, cracks generally initiate from the insulation layers for the conductive line trace 120. Even if the conductive lines trace 120 has sufficient modulus to withstand the bending stress without a crack, the cracks initiated from the insulation layer tend to grow and propagate into the conductive lines 120, creating spots of poor electrical contacts that could render the flexible display 100 unusable. Accordingly, various bending stress reduction techniques are utilized in both the insulation layers and the conductive lines 120.

It should be noted that cracks primarily propagate through inorganic insulation layers. Accordingly, propagation of cracks can be suppressed by selectively removing inorganic insulation layers from the areas prone to cracks. Accordingly, the inorganic insulation layers and/or stack of insulation layers including a layer of inorganic material can be selectively etched away at certain parts of the flexible display 100.

For example, the insulation layer under the conductive line trace 120 can be etched away as depicted in FIG. 5A. The insulation layer under the conductive line trace 120 may be the buffer layer 126, which may include one or more layers of inorganic material layers. The buffer layer 126 may be formed of one or more layers of a SiNx layer and a SiO2 layer. In one suitable configuration, the buffer layer 126 may be formed of alternating stacks of a SiNx layer and a SiO2 layer. The buffer layer 126 is disposed on the base layer 126, but under the TFT.

The buffer layer 126 formed on the substantially flat portion of the base layer 106 may be thicker than the buffer layer 126 over the bend portion of the base layer 106. To facilitate easier bending of the flexible display 100, a part of the buffer layer 126 may etched away in the bend portion of the flexible display 100. As such, the buffer layer 126 in the substantially flat portion of the flexible display 100 has at least one additional sub-layer than the buffer layer in the bend portion of the flexible display 100. For example, the buffer layer 126 in the substantially flat portion may include multiple stacks of a SiNx layer and a SiO2 layer, and the buffer layer 126 in the bend portion includes a single stack of a SiNx layer and a SiO2 layer. It is also possible to have only a single layer of either a SiNx layer or a SiO2 layer in some part of the bend portion.

Each SiNx layer and SiO2 layer of the stacked buffer 126 may have a thickness of about 1000 Å. As such, the thickness of the buffer layer in the bend portion of the flexible display may range from about 100 Å to about 2000 Å. In the substantially flat portion of the flexible display 100, additional layer of inorganic layer may be provided immediately below the semiconductor layer of the TFT. The inorganic layer that is positioned closest under the active layer of the TFT may be much thicker than the individual inorganic layers of the buffer 126.

In the bend allowance section, the buffer layer 126 may be etched even further to expose the base layer 106 while leaving the buffer layer 126 intact under the conductive line trace 120. In other words, a recessed area and a protruded area are provided in the bend portion of the flexible display 100. The protruded area includes the buffer layer 126 provided on the base layer 106, whereas the recessed area has the base layer 106 exposed without the buffer layer 126 disposed thereon.

The conductive line trace 120 is positioned on the protruded area, and the passivation layer 128 is positioned over the conductive line trace 120 on the protruded area. Although the passivation layer 128 may be temporarily deposited over the recessed area, the passivation layer 128 can be removed from the recessed area by dry etch or wet etch process. As such, the recessed area can be substantially free of the passivation layer 128. When etching the passivation layer 128 from the recessed area, part of the base layer 106 can also be etched. Accordingly, the thickness of the base layer 106 at the recessed area can be lower than that of the base layer 106 elsewhere in the flexible display 100. When the buffer layer 126 is etched away as shown in FIG. 5A, the crack propagation from the buffer 126 to the conductive line trace 120 can be reduced due to the recessed area.

As illustrated in FIG. 5B, in some embodiments, the recessed area includes the base layer 106 that is etched to a certain depth, and the conductive line trace 120 is deposited on the base layer 106 of the recessed area. In this setting, the portion of the conductive line trace 120 is disposed within the base layer 106. The conductive line trace 120 is also deposited on a part of the buffer layer 126 that provides the protruded area. A passivation layer 128 can be deposited over the conductive line trace 120, and then etched away from the recessed area to expose the conductive line trace 120 in the recessed area.

Accordingly, the passivation layer 128 remains on the conductive line trace 120 positioned on the protruded area. In this configuration, the passivation layer 128 remaining on the buffer layer 126 inhibits galvanic corrosion as it covers the side surface of the multi-layered conductive line trace 120. Accordingly, the conductive line trace 120 in the recessed area needs not be covered by the passivation layer 128. In this configuration, cracks generated from the buffer 126 may penetrate to the conductive line trace 120 on the side surface of the buffer layer 126, but not the part of the conductive line trace 120 positioned within the base layer 106. With the passivation layer 128 removed from the surface of the conductive line trace 120 in the recessed area, crack propagation from the passivation layer 128 can also be prevented. Since galvanic corrosion starts from the edge of the conductive line trace 120 on the buffer layer, the passivation layer 128 covering the edge of the conductive lines 120 on the buffer 126 may not be needed if the distance between the conductive line trace 120 on the buffer layer 126 and the conductive line trace 120 in the base layer 106 is sufficiently far.

Crack can also occur in the insulation layers during scribing and/or chamfering some part of the flexible display 100. The cracks generated at the edge of the flexible display 100 during such manufacturing processes can propagate towards central portion of the flexible display 100. In some cases, cracks at the edge of the side inactive areas propagate towards the active area and damage GIPs in the inactive areas.

Accordingly, inorganic layers at the top and bottom edges as to minimize the crack initiation from the scribing line of the flexible display 100. More specifically, the buffer layer 126 can be etched along the top and bottom edges, in the area denoted as “the scribe line etch area” in FIG. 6A. In these areas, the base layer 106 may be exposed or only a minimal thickness of inorganic layer to be remained along the scribe line of the flexible display 100.

Several crack stopper structures may also be provided at the sides of the active area. For instance, a recessed channel can be formed in the inactive area by etching the insulation layers as shown on the left side edge of the active area in FIG. 6A. In some embodiments, a metal and insulation layer pattern capable of changing the direction of crack can be formed between a circuit positioned in the inactive area and the outer edge of the inactive area. For example, a metal trace having a strain reduction pattern and insulation layer covering the metal trace can be formed between the GIP and the edge of the flexible display 100 as the right side of the flexible display 100 in FIG. 6A.

It should be noted that the recessed channel on the left side of the active area can also be provided on the right side of the active area. Likewise, the metal trace with the strain-reducing pattern provided on the right side of the inactive area can also be provided on the left side of the inactive area. In some embodiments, both the recessed channel and the metal trace having the strain-reducing pattern can be provided on both sides of the active area. In this configuration, the cracks propagating from the outer edge of the inactive area in the direction towards the GIP may change its course due to the angle of the diamond metal/insulation trace formed before the GIP.

Etching of the insulation layers can also be performed in the routing area between the active area and the bend allowance section as well as the routing area between the COF area and the bend allowance section. Further, the inorganic layers may be removed from the areas next to the chamfering lines so that cracks do not propagate from the chamfering line side towards the conductive lines 120.

FIG. 6B is an enlarged view of the bend allowance section near the chamfering line. In order to reduce crack initiation and propagation from the inorganic layers near the chamfering line, the insulation layer is etched away in the area from the VSS line to the chamfering line is etched. In particular, the buffer layer 126 disposed in the area between the closest conductive lines 120 in the bend allowance section (e.g., VSS) and the chamfering line can be etched away. In this area, the base layer 106 (e.g., PI) may be exposed or only minimal amount of buffer layer 126 may be left. Accordingly, crack initiation and propagation from the chamfering line can be minimized.

When etching the buffer layer 126 near the chamfering line, a stripe of buffer layer 126 may be left between the chamfering line and the closest conductive line trace 120 (e.g., VSS). Such a stripe of buffer layer can serve as a dam for inhibiting moistures of other foreign material from reaching the conductive line trace 120 from the chamfered side of the flexible display 100.

The removal of the buffer layer 126 can also be applied in the routing area between the chamfering line and the closest conductive line 120. The stripe of buffer layer 126 may also be provided in the routing area. Further, the buffer layer 126 under the conductive lines 120 and the passivation layer 128 on the conductive lines 120 can be etched away throughout the routing area to further reduce the chance of crack propagation by the inorganic layers in the routing area. Accordingly, the structure depicted in FIGS. 5A and 5B may also be applied to the conductive line traces 120 in the routing area.

FIG. 6C is an enlarged view of the bend allowance section near the chamfering line provided with another crack stopper structure. In this embodiment, an auxiliary conductive line 130 having the diamond trace pattern is provided between the chamfering line and the conductive line trace 120 (e.g., VSS). The buffer layer 126 under the auxiliary conductive line 130 and the passivation 128 on the auxiliary conductive line 130 can be etched in the similar manner as depicted in FIGS. 5A and 5B. Accordingly, the auxiliary conductive line 130 may inhibit propagation of cracks from the chamfering line to the conductive line trace 130. The auxiliary conductive line 130 may be a floating line. If desired, the auxiliary conductive line 130 may extend further towards bottom edge of the flexible display 100. In some embodiments, the auxiliary conductive line 130 may be in contact with adjacent conductive line 120. In addition to the auxiliary conductive line 130, the stripe of buffer layer 126 may also be provided to stop moisture or other foreign materials traveling towards the auxiliary conductive line 130.

Removal of inorganic insulation layers near the TFTs of the flexible display 100 may affect the electrical characteristic of components in the flexible display 100. For instance, undesired shift in the threshold voltage of TFTs was observed when SiNx layers were removed from the buffer layer 126. In order to maintain the stability of the TFTs, an additional shield metal layer can be formed under the semiconductor layer of the TFTs. The shield metal layer may be under the buffer layer 126 or interposed between the inorganic layers of the buffer layer 126. In some embodiments, the shield metal layer may be electrically connected to the source electrode or gate electrode of the TFTs.

A trace designs plays an important role in reducing the bending stress in both the conductive line trace 120 and the insulation layers. For convenience of explanation, the conductive line trace 120 and the trace of insulation layer (i.e., passivation layer 128) covering at least some part of the conductive line trace 120 are collectively referred to as the “wire trace” in the following description.

The trace design should be determined by considering the electrical requirements of the conductive line trace 120 as well as the type of signals transmitted on the conductive line trace 120. Also, the properties of the materials (e.g., Young's modulus) used in forming the conductive line trace 120 and the insulation layers can be considered in designing the traces. It should be noted that various other factors such as a thickness, a width, a length, a layout angle for a section as well as for the entirety of the conductive line trace 120 and the insulation layers may need to be considered to provide a trace design having sufficient electrical and mechanical reliability for use in the flexible display 100.

The wire trace design may be specifically tailored for the conductive line trace 120 and the insulation layers based on their placement and orientation in reference to the bending direction (i.e., tangent vector of the curve) of the flexible display 100. A wire trace will be subjected to more bending stress as the direction in which the wire trace extends is more aligned to the tangent vector of the curvature. In other words, a wire trace will withstand better against the bending stress when the length of the wire trace aligned to the tangent vector of the curvature is reduced.

In order to reduce the length of the wire trace portion being aligned to the tangent vector of the curvature, wire traces of the flexible display 100 may employ any one or more of a sign-wave, a square-wave, a serpentine, a saw-toothed and a slanted line trace designs illustrated in FIG. 7. In such configurations, the bending stress may be distributed to the trace portions oriented in an angle shifted away from the tangent vector of the curvature. The strain-reducing trace designs illustrated in FIG. 7 are merely exemplary and should not be construed as limitations to the trace designs that can be used in the embodiments of the flexible display 100.

Some conductive line trace 120 may adopt different strain-reducing trace designs from other conductive line trace 120 of the flexible display 100. In some embodiments, the conductive line trace 120 can have varying dimensions to facilitate tight spacing between the conductive lines. For instance, a convex side of a first wire trace may be placed in a concave side of a second wire trace next to the first wire trace.

In order to prevent or minimize severance of interconnections by cracks in the conductive line trace 120, the wire trace may split into multiple sub-traces, which and converge back into a single trace at a certain interval. In the example of FIG. 8A, a single trace of a conductive line trace 120 includes sub-trace A and sub-trace B, which merge back at every joint X, resembling a chain of diamonds. This trace design may be referred hereinafter as the diamond trace design. Because sub-traces are arranged to extend in the vector angled away from the tangent vector of the curvature, reduction in the length of the wire trace being aligned with the tangent vector of the curvature was realized in the similar manner as the trace designs illustrated in FIG. 7.

The diamond trace design shown in FIG. 8 provides a significant electrical advantage over the single line wire trace designs of the FIG. 7. First, given the same width, thickness and the angle shifting away from the tangent vector of the curve, nearly the half of electrical resistance was observed from the wire trace employing the diamond trace design in comparison to the wire trace employing the mountain trace design (i.e., 4.4 Ω:8.6Ω). In addition, splitting of the trace into multiple sub-traces may provide a backup electrical pathway in case one of the sub-traces is damaged by cracks. As such, the diamond trace design can be used for the wire traces in the bend portion, and may be particularly helpful for the wire traces within the bend allowance section subjected to severe bending stress.

As mentioned, the distribution of the bending stress depends on the vector (i.e., split angle) of the sub-traces in reference to the bending direction. The sub-trace having a larger split angle away from the bending direction (i.e., tangent vector of the curvature) will be subjected to less bending stress. However, it should be noted that the split of the wire trace into multiple sub-traces do not by itself provide bend stress reduction on each sub-trace any more than the bend stress reduction realized by the orientation of the wire trace being angled away from the tangent vector of the curvature. In fact, given the same conductive line width and angle of deviation from the tangent vector of the curvature, the result of bend stress simulation in a mountain shaped wire trace, which almost mirrors the shape of the one of the sub-traces in the diamond trace design, was nearly identical to the result of bend stress simulation exhibited on each sub-trace of the diamond trace design.

However, one of the extra benefits realized from the diamond trace design is that the design allows to minimize or to eliminate the length of insulation layer trace being aligned (i e, running parallel) to the tangent vector of the curvature with relatively little increase in the electrical resistance. Since the cracks generally initiate from the insulation layer, it is imperative that the length of the insulation trace being aligned with the tangent vector of the curvature is minimized. When using the diamond trace design, an offset is created between the locations of the conductive line trace 120 at the stress point A and the conductive line trace 120 at the stress point B, hence reduces the length of the conductive line trace 120 being aligned to the tangent vector of the curvature.

The same applies to the buffer layer 126 under the conductive line trace 120 as well as the passivation layer 128 on the conductive line trace 120. In other words, the inorganic buffer layer 126 is etched away in the area between buffer layer 126 at the stress point A and the stress point B such no continuous straight-line path of buffer layer 126 exists between two points. Likewise, the passivation layer 128 is etched away in the area between passivation layer 128 at the stress point A and the stress point B such no continuous straight-line path of passivation layer 128 exists between two points. Not only does the diamond trace design provide much lower crack initiation rate, but it also hinders the propagation of cracks to the conductive line trace 120.

Reduction of the insulation layer trace aligned to the tangent vector of the curvature can be done by reducing the width of the conductive line trace 120 and the insulation layer covering the conductive line trace 120. When the insulation layer trace aligned to the tangent vector of the curve is eliminated by reduction of conductive line width and the insulation trace width, the average size of cracks was reduced from 3.79 μm to 2.69 μm. The ohmic contact resistance was increased to 4.51Ω from 3.15Ω, but such an increase has minimal effect in the operation of the flexible display 100.

The amount of reduction in the width of conductive line trace 120 is limited with the single line trace designs depicted in FIG. 7 as the electrical resistance of the conductive line trace 120 can become too high to be used for the flexible display 100. However, the additional electrical pathway created by splitting and merging of the conductive line trace 120 yields much lower electrical resistance in the conductive line trace 120 as compared to using the non-split strain-reducing trace designs.

It should be noted that the splitting angle of the sub-traces affects the distance between the two adjacent joints X in the diamond trace design 800. The distance between the joints X need not be uniform throughout the entire wire trace. The intervals at which the trace splits and merges can vary within a single trace of wire based on the level of bending stress exerted on the parts of the wire trace. The distance between the joints X may be progressively shortened down for the parts of the wire trace towards the area of the flexible display 100 subjected to higher bending stress (e.g., area having lower radius of curvature, area having larger bend angle). Conversely, the distances between the joints X can progressively widen out towards the area subjected to lower bending stress.

In an exemplary trace design of FIG. 8B, the distance between the joints X of a trace in the end sections is at a first distance (e.g., 27 um), but the distance becomes progressively shorter towards the mid-section of the trace. In the mid-section, the distance between the joints X is reduced by half. The end sections of the trace shown in FIG. 8B may be for the part of the wire trace near the beginning of a bend allowance section, and the mid-section of the trace may be for the part positioned at or near the middle of the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100.

A lower chance of crack initiation is afforded in the wire trace by selectively increasing the angle of sub-traces in the wire trace at high bending stress regions. With sub-traces that split and merge at a greater angle away from the bending direction, more thorough reduction in the lengths of the conductive line trace 120 and the insulation layer extending along the tangent vector of the curvature. This way, unnecessary increase in the electrical resistance can be avoided.

The wire trace may split into additional number of sub-traces, creating a grid-like wire trace in the bending area of the flexible display 100 as illustrated in FIG. 8C. As an example, the sub-traces can be configured to form a plurality of a web formed of diamond trace shapes. Such trace design may be useful for wire traces that transmit a common signal, for example VSS and VDD. Neither the number of sub-traces nor the shapes of the sub-traces forming the grid-like trace design are particularly limited as the example shown in FIG. 8C. In some embodiments, the sub-traces may converge into a single trace past the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100.

The strain-reducing trace designs discussed above may be used for all or parts of the conductive line trace 120. In some embodiments, the part of conductive line trace 120 in the bend portion of the flexible display 100 may adopt such a strain-reducing trace design. The parts of a conductive line trace 120 prior to or beyond the part with the strain-reducing trace design may have the same trace design. If desired, the strain-reducing trace designs may be applied to multiple parts of a conductive line trace 120.

Even with the strain-reducing trace design, the inevitable bending stress remains at certain points of the trace (i.e., stress point). The location of stress point is largely dependent on the shape of the trace as well as the bending direction. It follows that, for a given bending direction, the trace of a wire and/or an insulation layer can be designed such that the remaining bending stress would concentrate at the desired parts of their trace. Accordingly, a crack resistance area can be provided in a trace design to reinforce the part of the wire trace where the bend stress concentrates.

Referring back to FIG. 8A, when a wire trace having the diamond trace design is bent in the bending direction, the bending stress tends to focus at the angled corners, which are denoted as the stress point A and stress point B. When a crack forms at those angled corners, it generally grows in the transverse direction that to the bending direction. For instance, at the stress points A, a crack may initiate from the outer trace line 820 and grows towards the inner trace line 830. Similarly, a crack may initiate from the outer trace line 830 and grow towards the inner trace line 820 at the stress points B.

Accordingly, the width of the conductive line trace 120 at the stress points A can be selectively increase in transversal direction to the bending direction, thereby serving as a crack resistance area. That is, the widths (WA, WB) of the conductive line trace 120 at the stress points A and B, which are measured in the crack growth direction, may be longer than the width (W) of the conductive line trace 120 at other parts as depicted in FIG. 8A. The extra width in the crack growth direction at the stress points makes the conductive line trace 120 to hold out longer before a complete disconnection occurs.

In a testing, the wires had the three-layered structure (MO 200 {acute over (Å)}/AL 3000 {acute over (Å)}/MO 200 {acute over (Å)}), which were formed on a 17 um thick PI base layer 106. A 1000 {acute over (Å)} thick SiNx layer was formed between the base layer 106 and the multi-layered conductive line trace 120. Also, a layer of SiO2 was formed over the multi-layered conductive line trace 120. The thickest portion of the SiO2 on the conductive line trace 120 was 3000 {acute over (Å)}. Each of the conductive lines 1 through 4 had different width a width of 8.5 um, 2.5 um, 3.5 um and 4.5 um, respectively, at the stress points A.

For each wire trace, electrical resistance was measured initially upon the bending and again at 15 hours later. If a crack is generated in the conductive line trace 120, the resistance of the conductive line trace 120 will be increased as well. The wire trace 1 with the longest width at the stress points A exhibited the lowest mean increase resistance rate whereas the wire 2 with the shortest width at the stress points A exhibited the largest mean increase resistance rate. Also, a complete severance was observed in three samples of the wire trace 2 and two samples of the wire trace 3. While complete severance in the wire trace 4, a considerable increase in the resistance was observed after 15 hours. Accordingly, a sufficient width at the stress points A is needed to maintain the reliability of the wire.

For instance, the width of the wire at the stress points A may be longer than 4.0 um. The width of the wire measured in the direction of the crack growth direction may be longer than 5.0 um for further improvement in the reliability. Even with the increased width of the conductive line trace 120 in the transversal direction to the bending direction, the length for the continuous portion of the insulation layer being aligned to the bending direction should be kept minimal. Accordingly, in an embodiment, the width of the wire at the stress points A ranges from about 2.5 um to about 8 um, more preferably, from about 3.5 um to about 6 um, more preferably from about 4.5 um to about 8.5 um, and more preferably at about 4.0 um.

The width of the conductive line trace 120 measured in the crack growth direction at the stress points B should also be maintained in the similar manner as the width of the conductive line trace 120 at the stress points A. As such, the width of the wire at the stress points B may ranges from about 2.5 um to about 8 um, more preferably, from about 3.5 um to about 6 um, more preferably from about 4.5 um to about 8.5 um, and more preferably at about 4.0 um. Due to the close proximity of the angled corners and their crack growth direction at the stress points B, the width of the conductive line trace 120 at the stress points B may be longer than width at the stress points A.

In order to minimize the chance of crack initiating from both the inner trace line 820 and the outer trace line 830, at least one of the trace lines may not be as sharply angled as the other trace lines at the stress points A. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 8A, the inner trace line 820 at the stress points A has the angled corner and the outer trace line 830 at the stress points A is substantially parallel (e.g., ±5°) to the bending direction. However, the length L of the outer trace line 830 extending in the bending direction in excess may defeat the purpose of utilizing the strain-reducing trace design in the first place. As such, the length L for the portion of the outer trace line 830 extending substantially parallel to the bending direction may be equal to or deviate slightly (e.g., within ±2.5 μm) from the width W of the wire trace. Alternatively, the sharply angled corner can be formed with the outer trace line 830 while the inner trace line 820 at the stress points A being substantially parallel to the bending direction. In both cases, the less sharply angled trace line can simply be more rounded rather than having the straight line trace as shown in FIG. 8A.

As discussed above, splitting and merging of the wire creates stress points that share the given amount of bending stress. With the relatively low bending stress at each stress point, there is less chance of crack initiation. In some cases, however, available space on the flexible display 100 may limit the number of joints X of a trace. That is, excess joints X in a wire trace may take up too much space in the flexible display 100. On the other hand, the limited number of joints X in a trace may not be enough to prevent or minimize crack initiating at the stress points.

Accordingly, a trace may be provided with a number of micro-stress points 810 that are strategically positioned along one or more sub-traces such that the bending stress on the sub-trace is distributed among the micro-stress points 810. In the example depicted in FIG. 8D, the insulation trace includes a number of micro-stress points 810. As discussed, the angled corners tend to be the stress points in a trace design. Thus a plurality of angled cutouts can be formed along the insulation layer trace to serve as a micro stress points 810. In this setting, at least some fraction of the bending stress on each of the sub-traces would be focused on each of the micro-stress points 810. With each micro-stress points 810 taking up the fraction of the given bending stress on the sub-traces, the size of the crack at each micro-stress points 810 may be smaller than a crack size that would result in the insulation layer trace without the micro-stress points 810. Accordingly, this can reduce the chance of complete severance of the conductive line trace 120.

It should be appreciated that the location and the number of micro-stress points 810 is not limited as shown in FIG. 8D. Additional micro-stress points 810 can be formed at the desired location in the respective insulation traces to further reduce the chance of crack initiation.

As discussed above, some structural elements may not exist in some areas of the flexible display 100 to facilitate bending. For example, elements such as the touch sensor layer 112, polarization layer 110 and the like may be absent in the bend area of the flexible display 100. Also, some of the insulation layers, for instance the buffer layer 126, may be etched in some degree so that the insulation layer has less number of sub-layers or has a decreased thickness at one area as compared to other areas in the flexible display 100. Absence or simplification of these components and the layers would create a recessed area where the wire trace and/or the insulation layer trace need to cross.

The amount of bending stress and the direction in which the bending stress is exerted on the wire trace laid over the recessed area may differ from the bending stress exerted to other parts of bend portion. To accommodate the difference, the strain-reducing trace design for the wire traces at the recessed area can also differ from the strain-reducing trace design used elsewhere.

FIG. 9A illustrates a cross-sectional view at an edge of a backplane of the exemplary flexible display 100, in which several insulation layers are removed from the bend portion to facilitate more reliable bending.

As shown, there are several organic and inorganic layers formed in between the base layer 106 and the OLED element layer 102. In this particular example, alternating stacks of SiNx and SiO2 layers can be disposed on the base layer 106 to serve as the buffer layer 126. The semiconductor layer of a TFT may be sandwiched by an active-buffer layer and a gate insulation layer that are formed of SiO2 layer. The gate of the TFT is disposed on an interlayer dielectric layer (ILD), and the source/drain of the TFT having the multi-layered structure as discussed above is sandwiched between the ILD and a passivation layer. Here, the ILD may be formed of a stack of SiNx and SiO2, and the passivation layer is formed of SiNx. Then, a planarization layer is disposed over the passivation layer so that the anode for the OLED can be disposed thereon.

As mentioned above, use of the strain-reducing trace design is not just limited to the part of the wire traces within the bend portion. In other words, the strain-reducing trace design can be applied to the part of the wire traces in the routing areas outside the bend allowance section. Using the strain-reducing trace design for the wire trace in such routing area can afford increased protection to the wire trace against the bending stress.

In the routing area, however, several layers between the base layer 106 and the OLED element layer 102 are absent to facilitate bending of the flexible display 100. For instance, the ILD and the gate insulation layer is etched away in the trimmed area by the first etch process, which is followed by the second etch process that etches away the active buffer and a part of the buffer 126 (e.g., a stack of a SiNx layer and a SiO2 layer). These etching processes create multiple steps where a sharp change of direction occurs between the wire trace disposed on the vertically sloped surfaces and the wire trace disposed on the horizontally leveled surfaces. In other words, the wire trace would have several bent spots, such as EB1 and EB2.

When bending the flexible display 100 in the bending direction, the wire trace may experience more strain at or near the steps. Numerous tests and experiments indicate that the chance of a crack is especially high in the wire trace crossing over the step between the EB1 area and the EB2 area. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the strain-reducing trace design for the wire trace has a reinforced portion at or near the step between a high-leveled surface and a low-leveled surface provided by insulation layers of the flexible display.

In the example shown in FIG. 9B, the wire trace has a simple straight line trace design in the beginning, which is changed into the split and merge strain-reducing trace design in the abridged area. In addition, the part of the conductive line that crosses over before and after the bent spots EB1 and EB2 is reinforced with extra width WR. That is, the conductive line has substantially wider width to reinforce the conductive line trace 120 near the bent spots EB1 and EB2 to ensure the preservation of the conductive line trace 120 even if cracks initiate from the insulation layer covering the reinforced portion of the conductive line. The distance DR of the reinforced portion of which the conductive line is reinforced with the wider increased width WR depends on the size of the steps created by the etching processes as well as the distance between the bent spots EB1 and EB2. Past the reinforced part, the wire trace continues with the diamond chain-like trace design discussed above. The strain-reducing trace design for the wire trace that comes before and after the reinforced portion is not particularly limited to the trace design as depicted in FIG. 9B, and any other strain-reducing trace design discussed above may be used.

While this may not always be the case, the routing areas adjacent to the bend allowance section may be the substantially flat parts of the flexible display 100. In such cases, the bent spots EB1 and EB2 would be positioned at or just outside start of the bend allowance section in the bend portion.

The increased width WR of the reinforced conductive line trace 120 portion may serve its purpose well at or near the edges of the bend allowance section where the curvature is relatively small. However, the wider width WR of the wire trace would increase the length of the wire trace that is linear to the bending direction. This would be make the wire trace harder to hold out against the bending stress at the region with greater bend radius. For this reason, the distance DR in which the reinforced portion is used should be limited such that the reinforced conductive line portion does not extend too far beyond towards into the bend allowance section. In other words, the distance DR of the reinforced conductive line portion may be limited such that the trace design of the reinforced conductive line portion does not extend beyond the bend allowance section with more than a threshold bend angle. In way of an example, the reinforced conductive line portion may not extend beyond the point where it is 30° curved away from the tangent plane of the curvature. The threshold bend angle may be less than 20°, for example 10°, and more preferably less than 7°.

The wire trace having the reinforced section may extend beyond the bend allowance area routed to pads for COF or other components of the flexible display 100. In such instances, there may be additional bent spots (similar to EB1 and EB2) at or near the end of the bend allowance section. The conductive line at or near such bent spots may be reinforced in the similar manner as the wire trace portion at the bent spots EB1 and EB2. If desired, the reinforced conductive line portion at or near the bent spots at the other end of the bend allowance section may be different as depicted in FIG. 9B.

With the inorganic insulation layers etched away from the bend portion of the flexible display 100, the wire traces in the bend portion can be vulnerable to moistures and other foreign materials. In particular, various pads and conductive lines for testing the components during manufacturing of the flexible display 100 may be chamfered, and this can leave conductive lines exiting at the notched edge of the flexible display 100. Such conductive lines can easily corrode by the moistures, and cause other nearby conductive line traces to corrode as well.

Accordingly, a protective layer, which may be referred to as a “micro-coating layer,” can be provided over the wire traces in the bend portion to provide added protection against moistures and other foreign materials. In addition to having a good moisture resistance, the micro-coating layer should have sufficient flexibility so that it can be used in the bend portion of the flexible display 100. Further, the material of the micro-coating layer should be curable with low energy within a limited time so that the components under the micro-coating layer are not damaged during the curing process.

FIG. 10A is a schematic illustration of one suitable exemplary configuration of the micro-coating layer 132 in an embodiment of flexible display 100. The micro-coating layer 132 may be provided as photo-curable (e.g., UV light, Visible light, UV LED) resin and coated over the desired areas of the flexible display 100. In this regard, the micro-coating layer 132 is coated over the area between the encapsulation 114 and the COF 134 attached in the inactive area. Depending on the adhesive property of the micro-coating layer 132, however, the micro-coating layer 132 can be detached from the encapsulation 114 and/or the COF 134. Any open space between the micro-coating layer 132 and the encapsulation 114 or the COF 132 may become a defect site where moisture can permeate through.

Accordingly, the micro-coating layer 132 may be coated to overflow into a part of the top surface of the encapsulation 114 for enhanced sealing between the encapsulation 114 and the micro-coating layer 132. The additional contact area between the micro-coating layer 132 and the surface of the encapsulation 114 can provide stronger bonding between the two, and reduce the cracks and corrosion of the wire traces at the bend portion of the flexible display 100. Likewise, the micro-coating layer 132 can be coated on as least some part of the COF 134 for stronger bonding between the micro-coating layer 132 and the COF 134.

Referring to FIGS. 10B and 10C, the width of the encapsulation 114 coated with the micro-coating layer 134 (denoted as Overflow_W1) and the width of the COF 134 coated with the micro-coating layer 134 (denoted as Overflow_W2) are not particularly limited and may vary depending on the adhesiveness of the micro-coating layer 132. As shown in FIG. 10B, the flexible display 100 may include a portion where the micro-coating layer 132 on the encapsulation 114 is spaced apart from the sidewall of the polarization layer 110. In some embodiments, the flexible display 100 may include a portion where the micro-coating layer 132 on the encapsulation 114 is in contact with the polarization layer 110 disposed on the encapsulation 114 as depicted in FIG. 10C. In one suitable configuration, the micro-coating layer 132 may be in contact with the polarization layer 110 at the two opposite corners (denoted “POL_CT”) while the micro-coating layer 132 only covers up to some part of the encapsulation 114 in the areas between the two opposite corners. After the bending process, the part of the flexible display 100 where the micro-coating layer 132 is spaced apart from the polarization layer 110 may be configured as shown in FIG. 11A. In the region where micro-coating layer 132 is configured to be in contact with the polarization layer 110, the flexible display 100 may be configured as shown in FIG. 11B.

It should be noted that the micro-coating layer 132 is dispensed in a resinous form, and may spread on the dispensed surface. The spreading dynamic depends on the viscosity of the micro-coating layer 132 as well as the surface energy of which the micro-coating layer 132 is dispensed. As such, the micro-coating layer 132 overflowed into the encapsulation 114 may reach the polarization layer 110. When the micro-coating layer 132 reaches the sidewall of the polarization layer 114, the micro-coating layer 132 may climb over the sidewall of the polarization layer 110. Such sidewall wetting of the micro-coating layer 132 can make uneven edges over the surface of the polarization layer 132, which may cause various issues when placing another layer thereon. Accordingly, the amount of the micro-coating layer 134 dispensed on the targeted surface can be adjusted to control the width of the micro-coating layer 134 on the encapsulation layer 114.

The micro-coating layer 132 may be coated in a predetermined thickness to adjust the neutral plane of the flexible display 100 at the bend portion. More specifically, added thickness at the bend portion of the flexible display 100 by the micro-coating layer 132 can change the neutral plane so that the plane of the wire traces is shifted closer to the neutral plane.

In some embodiments, the thickness of the micro-coating layer 132 in the area between the encapsulation 114 and the COF 134, which is measured from the surface of the base layer 106, may be substantially the same as the distance between the surface of the base layer 106 to the top surface of the encapsulation 104. In such embodiments, the vertical distance between the top surface of the micro-coating layer 132 in the bend allowance section and the top surface of the encapsulation 114 may be less than 25 um.

Various resin dispensing methods, such as slit coating, jetting and the like, may be used to dispense the micro-coating layer 132 at the targeted surface. In way of an example, the micro-coating layer 132 can be dispensed by using a jetting valve. The dispensing speed from the jetting valve(s) may be adjusted during the coating process for accurate control of the thickness and the spread size of the micro-coating layer 132 at the targeted surface. Further, additional number of jetting values may be used to reduce the dispense time and limit the amount of spread before the micro-coating layer 132 is cured through UV irradiation.

Although the concepts and teachings in the present disclosure are described above with reference to OLED display technology, it should be understood that several features may be extensible to any form of flexible display technology, such as electrophoretic, liquid crystal, electrochromic, displays comprising discreet inorganic LED emitters on flexible substrates, electrofluidic, and electrokinetic displays, as well as any other suitable form of display technology.

As described above, a flexible display 100 may include a plurality of innovations configured to allow bending of a portion or portions to reduce apparent border size and/or utilize the side surface of an assembled flexible display 100. In some embodiments, bending may be performed only in the bend portion and/or the bend allowance section having only the conductive line trace 120 rather than active display components or peripheral circuits. In some embodiments, the base layer 106 and/or other layers and substrates to be bent may be heated to promote bending without breakage, then cooled after the bending. In some embodiments, metals such as stainless steel with a passive dielectric layer may be used as the base layer 106 rather than the polymer materials discussed above. Optical markers may be used in several identification and aligning process steps to ensure appropriate bends absent breakage of sensitive components. Components of the flexible display 100 may be actively monitored during device assembly and bending operations to monitor damage to components and interconnections.

Constituent materials of conductive line trace 120 and/or insulation layers may be optimized to promote stretching and/or compressing rather than breaking within a bending area. Thickness of a conductive line trace 120 may be varied across a bending area and/or the bend allowance section to minimize stresses about the bend portion or the bend allowance section of the flexible display 100. Trace design of conductive line trace 120 and insulation layers may be angled away from the bending direction (i.e., tangent vector of the curvature), meandering, waving, or otherwise arranged to reduce possibility of severance during bending. The thickness of the conductive line trace 120, insulation layers and other components may be altered or optimized in the bend portion of the flexible display 100 to reduce breakage during bending. Bend stresses may be reduced by adding protective micro-coating layer(s) over components in addition to disclosed encapsulation layers. Conductive films may be applied to the conductive line trace 120 before, during, or after bending in a repair process. Furthermore, the constituent material and/or the structure for conductive line trace 120 in a substantially flat area of a flexible display 100 may differ from the conductive line trace 120 in a bend portion and/or the bend allowance section.

These various aspects, embodiments, implementations or features of the described embodiments can be used separately or in any combination. The foregoing is merely illustrative of the principles of this invention and various modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention.

Claims

1. A display apparatus, comprising:

a base layer having a bend allowance section between a first portion and a second portion of the display apparatus;
a plurality of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) elements disposed on the first portion of the base layer;
an encapsulation over the OLED elements;
a printed circuit film attached to the second portion of the base layer; and
a micro-coating layer disposed over the bend allowance section of the base layer.

2. The display apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of wire traces routed between the first portion and the second portion of the base layer, wherein the micro-coating layer is arranged to cover the plurality of conductive line traces in the bend allowance section.

3. The display apparatus of claim 2, wherein the micro-coating layer is arranged to cover a part of the encapsulation.

4. The display apparatus of claim 3, further comprising a polarization layer on the encapsulation positioned to expose at least some part of an upper surface of the encapsulation, wherein the micro-coating layer is arranged to cover at least part of the upper surface of the encapsulation between an edge of polarization layer and an edge of the encapsulation.

5. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein the micro-coating layer covering the upper surface of the encapsulation is in contact with the sidewall of the polarization layer.

6. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein the micro-coating layer covering the upper surface of the encapsulation includes a portion that is in contact with the sidewall of the polarization layer and a portion that is spaced apart from the side wall of the polarization layer.

7. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein the micro-coating layer is arranged to cover a part of the printed circuit film attached on the second portion of the display apparatus.

8. The display apparatus of claim 4, further comprising:

a buffer layer under the plurality of wire traces routed between the first portion and the second portion of the flexible display; and
a passivation layer on the plurality of wire traces routed between the first portion and the second portion of the flexible display, wherein the plurality of wire traces has a strain-reducing trace design in the bend allowance section, and wherein the buffer layer and the passivation layer in the bend allowance section has a pattern corresponding to the strain-reducing trace design of the wire traces in the bend allowance section.

9. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein each of the first portion, the second portion and the bend allowance section includes a buffer layer etched area between the notched line and a closest conductive line trace to the respective notched line.

10. The display apparatus of claim 4, further comprising a first support film attached on an inner surface of the first portion of the base layer and a second support film attached on an inner surface of the second portion of the base layer, wherein the first support film and the encapsulation film are arranged such that the first support film is extended further out toward the bend portion of the base layer than the encapsulation film.

11. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein the micro-coating layer is formed of a photo-curable material.

12. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein the micro-coating layer has a thicker profile in a first routing area between the encapsulation and the bend allowance section than a second routing area between the printed circuit film and the bend allowance section.

13. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein a width of the upper surface of the encapsulation that is covered by the micro-coating layer is greater than a width of the printed circuit film that is covered by the micro-coating layer.

14. The display apparatus of claim 4, wherein a height of the micro-coating layer on the upper surface of the encapsulation is lesser than a height the micro-coating layer on the printed circuit film.

15. A method of manufacturing a display apparatus, comprising:

forming a buffer layer on a base layer;
forming a conductive line traces with a strain-reducing pattern in an inactive are of the base layer;
chamfering the base layer to create a notched inactive area having a bend allowance section;
etching the buffer layer to expose the base layer along strain-reducing pattern of the conductive line trace and along the notched line;
dispensing a micro-coating layer in the notched inactive area; and
curing the micro-coating layer.

Patent History

Publication number: 20160064466
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 31, 2014
Publication Date: Mar 3, 2016
Inventors: HaeJoon Son (Paju-si), JoungHo Ryu (Seoul), SieHyug Choi (Goyang-si)
Application Number: 14/474,154

Classifications

International Classification: H01L 27/32 (20060101); H01L 51/52 (20060101); H01L 51/56 (20060101); H01L 51/00 (20060101);