The Foundations of Small Pixel Pitch LED in Display Technologies

LED displays are defined by features such as pixel pitch. Particularly, this feature defines these displays in terms of the level of resolution or the pixel density on the display. If a display has a high number of pixels per unit measure, it is known as a small pixel pitch LED. In this article, we explore these types of displays in detail.

Understanding Small Pixel Pitch in LED Displays

There are several terms we need to define in order to understand small-pixel pitch LEDs. All these terms revolve around the same idea and they complement each other. Let us look at them in more detail.

What is pixel pitch?

LED displays are made of tiny semiconductor devices known as LED chips. These devices are mounted onto a substrate layer that either lights up the LCD layer or acts as the primary source of illumination for the display.

These LED chips form the pixels on the screen. Pixel pitch is the distance from the center of one LED chip to the immediate adjacent chip. This distance is measured in millimeters.

We get small pixel pitch from LED displays that have a short distance between the pixels. This means that the pixels are closely stacked together. Technically, this will result in a high concentration of LED chips on a display. Subsequently, such a display will have a high pixel density which means high resolution.

The value of the pixel pitch is designated with the letter P in consumer products. For instance, you might find an LED display with a P2.5 in the specs sheet. This implies that the distance between pixels in that specific display is 2.5 millimeters. Displays with this range of pixel pitch are categorized under small pixel pitch LED displays.

Optimal viewing distance (OVD)

The significance of pixel pitch in LED displays is to help you understand the best viewing distance of your LED display. Viewing distance is defined as the distance from the viewer, in this case, you, to the LED display. 

If the distance between you and the display is sufficient to see the contents on the screen clearly, the LED display is said to have an optimal viewing distance.

During the manufacturing of LED displays, technicians specify the optimal distance from which you will be able to view the content on the screen clearly. This distance is calculated based on factors such as the pixel pitch of the LED display.

Viewing Distance  Recommended Pixel Pitch
0 – 6 metres  1 – 3 MM
6 – 12 metres  3 – 6 MM
12 metres and above  6 MM or more

 

As you can see from the table, the closer you are to the display, the smaller the pixel pitch needs to be. This is to ensure that you are not seeing the individual pixels on the screen which can be distracting. On the other hand, displays that are viewed from afar, for instance, LED billboards, can have high pixel pitches because you are not looking directly at them.

How to calculate pixel pitch  

There are many ways of calculating the pixel pitch of an LED display. The most common and effective method is by measuring the physical diagonal length of the LED and then calculating the input of this measurement together with the native resolution of the display.

There are online calculators that are used to determine the pixel pitch of a display based on these values — the diagonal length and the native resolution of the screen. This approach works by estimating the number of pixels on the screen based on the pixels per inch.

In most cases, LED displays have a spec sheet that indicates the pixel pitch of the particular display. You will find this information on the user guide or instruction manual written as P2.0 or another number as we previously explained.

The Main Significance of Small Pixel Pitch LED

Why do LED displays with a small pixel pitch exist? This question might appear straightforward but the key to answering it revolves around human nature. When displays such as television sets were first invented, features such as resolution were not a major concern.

As this technology became more mainstream, the need for better displays rose. This led to healthy competition in a bid to create the perfect resolution. This meant a display that represents content on the screen as accurately as the human eyes perceive the natural world. This has always been a challenging endeavor but there are promising results so far.

Small pixel pitch LED displays aim to recreate true color images in the digital space. This has facilitated the development of technologies such as virtual and augmented realities. Content viewed on these displays appears accurate, vivid, and bright from any viewing distance.

Types of LED Displays with Small Pixel Pitch  

Any LED display with a pixel pitch of less than 2 mm is said to have a small pixel pitch. This distance is influenced by factors such as the mounting technique used to pack the LED chips on the substrate. Also, pixel pitch is influenced by the type of LED chips used. Let us learn about some common types of LED displays that are considered to have small pixel pitches.

  • Micro LED – This is among the newest generations of LED displays. Micro LED or μLED displays use microscopic LED chips as the source of illumination. These LEDs are grown using a process called epitaxial growth. The pixel pitch of this type of display is measured in micrometers and it can be as low as 70µm.
  • Mini LED – After micro LEDs, this is the next in line of small-pitch LED displays. In most cases, mini LED displays have an LCD layer that is illuminated by the layer containing the mini LEDs. They have a pixel pitch of less than 1 mm.

LED Packing Technologies for Small Pixel Pitch LED

The packaging of LED chips on the substrate is another factor that determines the size of the pixel pitch on a display. To achieve small pixel pitches, there are two major technologies used. Each technology has its upsides and downsides. 

Surface Mount LED (SMD) LED

There is a high possibility that any LED display with a pixel pitch of less than 10 mm was made using SMD mounting technology. Primarily, this technology is used to mount LED lights rather than LED chips.

In this approach, the LED chips are attached directly to the circuit board using surface mount technologies (SMT). This is among the oldest mounting technologies and it has been used in LED luminaires too.

Apart from lowering the pixel pitch of the LED display, SMD technologies also improve the efficiency of the LED display. This is because the proximity of the LED chips to the electrical current lowers the time it takes to light up. 

Chip on Board (CoB) LED

This is the other alternative to LED packaging technologies. It is known to be effective for mounting LED chips on a substrate that has efficient thermal properties. Apart from improving the pixel density of the display, this technology also improves the energy efficiency of the display.

Additionally, LED displays made using CoB technology are more reliable compared to SMD technologies. This is seen in the lack of temperature fluctuation which can cause pixel death and loss of illumination. CoB LEDs have a pixel pitch of between 0.5 mm to 2 mm. 

Benefits of Small Pixel Pitch LED

Small pixel-pitch LEDs are beneficial in many ways. Some of these ways include;

Improved Image Quality

Low-quality content is a thing of the past. Today, content is being formatted in up to 8K resolution and some displays can reproduce this resolution. Specifically, small-pixel pitch LED displays can recreate high-quality content. Moreover, the LED controllers are also equipped with algorithms to make low-quality content appear more refined.

Shortened Viewing Distance

The size of the pixel pitch dictates the distance from which you can view content without seeing the individual pixels that make up the display. When the pixel pitch is small, it means that you can watch content on the display from a distance of up to 2 meters without getting distracted by the pixels. This leads to a better viewing experience.

Better Image Splicing 

Image splicing is a technique that high-quality displays use to combine images from different sources into one to create a montage. The results of this process are notable if and when the pixel density of the screen is high. This is because high pixel density facilitates the smooth splicing effect for motion graphics.

High Contrast Ratio 

The contrast ratio is the difference in light and dark hues on a display. A high ratio means that there is a clear difference between the two hues. This is important since it helps you differentiate colors, shades, and other elements of graphics on a screen. A high contrast ratio is a result of high pixel density or small pixel pitch.

High Refresh Rate

LED displays refresh images at certain rates depending on the quality of the display. Particularly, the resolution of the screen determines this rate. Displays with a high resolution have a high refresh rate. 

The reason why a high refresh rate is important is because of the implications it has on the viewing experience. In other words, you will enjoy a smooth transition due to the high frame rates of the display.

What is a Good Pixel Pitch?

Several factors are considered when choosing the ideal pixel pitch. For instance, it would be impractical to choose an LED billboard with a pixel pitch of less than 5 mm. Similarly, an LED TV with a pixel pitch of above 10 mm would be impractical. This consideration is based on the optimal viewing distance that we discussed earlier.

If other factors are constant, you need to choose the display you want based on the intended use case. This means that if you intend to use the display in small rooms, a display with a small pixel pitch should work. Conversely, in situations where the distance between the display is far from the viewer, the pixel pitch does not matter so much. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the pixel pitch of an LED display influences its cost. Therefore, the smaller the pixel pitch, the higher the cost, and vice versa. This is because it is expensive to produce small pixel-pitch LED displays.

How Does Pixel Pitch Affect LED Display?

The quality of an LED display is not entirely based on the pixel pitch. Rather, several factors are used to determine whether the display is of high quality or otherwise. For instance, the durability of the LED device is another factor. Does it have ingress protection ratings? These are all pertinent issues that influence the quality of the LED display.

Conclusion

Small pixel-pitch LED displays are dominating the LED display technologies market. They have proven to be reliable and beneficial in many ways. This explains why most top-of-the-line consumer devices and gadgets use micro and mini LED technologies. This is just the tipping point, meaning more innovation in LED display technology is expected in the coming years.

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