OLED introduction and basic OLED information
What is an OLED?
OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) is a flat light emitting technology, made by placing a series of organic thin films between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, a bright light is emitted. OLEDs can be used to make displays and lighting. Because OLEDs emit light they do not require a backlight and so are thinner and more efficient than LCD displays(which do require a white backlight).
OLED vs LCD
OLED displays have the following advantages over LCD displays:
The future - flexible and transparent OLED displays
It turns out that because OLEDs are thin and simple - they can be used to create flexible and even transparent displays. This is pretty exciting as it opens up a whole world of possibilities:
Several companies are working towards such displays. In fact TDK is already producing simple transparent OLEDs, and Lenovo's S-800 phone is the first product to use them.
How do OLEDs work?
An OLED is made by placing a series of organic thin films between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, a bright light is emitted.
So what's organic about OLEDs?
OLEDs are organic because they are made from carbon and hydrogen. There's no connection to organic food or farming - although OLEDs are very efficient and do not contain any bad metals - so it's a real green technology.
Where can I find OLED displays today?
Today you can find small (2 to 7 inch) OLED displays in many types of devices such as mobile phones, A/V players, car audio systems and digital cameras. The list of companies that offer products with OLED displays is impressive: Sony, Samsung, Nokia, LG, Dell, Olympus, HTC, ASUS, Panasonic, Microsoft and others.
OLEDs are used in mobile devices today because they are thin, efficient and bright. Obviously OLEDs carry a price premium over LCDs, but companies are using these displays more and more. Here's our list of products and gadgets with an OLED display.
Why can't I buy an OLED TV?
Actually, you can. If you live in Korea, and have some spare change (11 million Won, or about $10,000) then you can buy LG's 55EM9700 - a stunning 55" OLED TV that's only 4 mm thick and weighs just 3.5Kg. The Full-HD TV offers superb colors and contrast ratio and passive 3D. Samsung is set to release their own OLED TV soon (the ES9500). Samsung's TV uses quite different technology compared to LG's TV, but both offer stunning image quality and have received race reviews in trade shows.
Back in November 2007 Sony began to sell the world's first OLED TV - the 11" XEL-1 (for about 2000$). But this wasn't really a commercial product and the price was too high, and Sony stopped selling it on February 2010. In January 2010, LG unveiled the EL9500, a 15" OLED TV, which suffered the same fate as the XEL-1. You can find more information about OLED TVs here.
OLEDs aren't perfect. First of all, today it costs more to produce an OLED than it does to produce an LCD - although this should hopefully change in the future, as OLEDs has a potential to be even cheaper than LCDs because of their simple design.
OLEDs have limited lifetime (like any display, really), that was quite a problem a few years ago. But there has been constant progress, and today this is almost a non-issue.
OLEDs can also be problematic in direct sunlight, because of their emmissive nature. But companies are working to make it better, and newer AMOLEDs (such as Samsung's Super AMOLED and Super AMOLED Plus and Nokia's CBD displays) are quite good in that respect - some even consider them superior to LCDs.
Can OLEDs produce white lighting?
One of the more exciting attributes of organic displays is the low power consumption, and the ability to operate as a light source. OLEDs can produce white light, and can provide the bulb of the future - low power (maybe even more efficient than CFL lamps) and thin area designs (and no bad metals). As OLEDs will also be flexible and transparent, this technology can truly be the light of the future.
Most Lighting companies (including Philips, OSRAM, GE, Lumiotec,Samsung, LG and UDC) are working towards OLED Lighting. You can buy 'sample' panels and lamps today - which are currently very expensive. It is expected that by 2012-2013 'real' commercial production will begin.
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