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AMOLED (Active Matrix OLED): introduction and basics
OLED displays use organic materials that emit light when electricity is applied. OLEDs enable emissive, bright, thin, flexible and efficient displays. OLEDs are set to replace LCDs in all display applications - from small displays to large TV sets.
AMOLED displays today are used in many applications. Samsung for example uses AMOLED displays in most of their high-end phones, including the latest Galaxy S6 (and S6 Edge) and the Note 4. Samsung also uses AMOLEDs in tablets, digital cameras and wearable devices. Other companies (such as Motorola, Microsoft, Sony and even Apple) also adopt AMOLEDs in some of their products.
AMOLED: Active Matrix OLED
The term AMOLED means Active-Matrix OLED. The 'active-matrix' part refers to the driving electronics, or the TFT layer. When you display an image, you actually display it line by line (sequentially) as you can only change one line at a time. An AMOLED uses a TFT which contains a storage capacitor which maintains the line pixel states, and so enables large size (and large resolution) displays.
AMOLED vs PMOLED
A PMOLED uses a simpler kind of driver electronics - without a storage capacitor. This means that each line is turned off when you move to the next line. So let's say you have 10 rows in your display - each row will only be on 1/10 of the time. The brightness of each row has to be 10 times the brightness you'd get in an AMOLED. So you use more voltage which shortens the lifetime of the OLED materials and also results in a less efficient display. So while PMOLEDs are cheaper to make than AMOLEDs they are limited in size and resolution (the largest PMOLED is only 5", and most of them are around 1" to 3"). Most PMOLEDs are used for character display, and not to show photos or videos.
Flexible OLED displays
Samsung and LG already mass produce flexible AMOLED panels, used in mobile phone and wearable devices. Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge, for example, uses a 5.1" AMOLED on a plastic substrate - that bends around the device edges. LG Display is also producing large flexible AMOLEDs, used in their own mobile phones and also reportedly in the Apple Watch. You can find out more information in our Flexible OLED Market Report.
Several companies are developing large transparent AMOLED displays - and in past years we've seen many prototypes - including a large 55" Full-HD transparent TV. But this technology is not commercial yet, mostly it seems because there are no useful applicaitons that will convince the dislpay makers to mass produce such panels. For more information, check out our Transparent OLED Market Report.
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