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:
- Improved image quality - better contrast, higher brightness, fuller viewing angle, a wider color range and much faster refresh rates.
- Lower power consumption
- Simpler design that enables ultra-thin, flexible and transparent displays
- Better durability - OLEDs are very durable and can operate in a broader temperature range
Read more about OLED vs LED TVs.
The future - flexible and transparent OLED displays
As we said, OLEDs can be used to create flexible and transparent displays. This is pretty exciting as it opens up a whole world of possibilities:
- Curved OLED displays, placed on non-flat surfaces
- Wearable OLEDs
- Transparent OLEDs embedded in windows
- OLEDs in car windshields
- New designs for lamps
- And many more we cannot even imagine today...
Flexible OLEDs are already on the market, as are transparent OLEDs. The future will bring us much more exciting displays, so stay tuned!
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?
OLEDs are used today in mobile phones, digital cameras, VR headsets, tablets, laptops and TVs. Samsung is the clear leader in OLED production for mobile devices, and the company uses OLEDs in all of their flagship devices - such as the Galaxy S6, the Note 5 and the very latest Tablet Pro S. Other companies, including Apple, Motorola, Dell, Sony, Microsoft, LG and Lenovo are also using OLEDs in some of their mobile devices.
OLEDs are used in mobile devices today because they are thin, efficient and bright. OLEDs carry a price premium over LCDs, but companies are using these displays more and more as performance increases and prices decrease. Here's our list of products and gadgets with an OLED display.
In January 2013, LG launched the world's first OLED TV, the 55EM9700. LG's TV features a stunning 55" Full-HD panel that offers superb colors and contrast ratio. The TV is only 4 mm thick and weighs just 3.5 Kg.
Both LG and Samsung are also offering curved OLED TV. Samsung's KN55S9C for examplecosts $8,997 while LG's 55EA9800 is even more expensive at $9,999. Both panels are 55" in size and offer Full-HD resolution. Reviews of those TVs have been spectacular, with all reviewers saying that OLED TVs offer the best picture quality ever.
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. Today OLEDs last long enough to be used in mobile devices and TVs. 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?
Yes, OLEDs actually make for a great light source. OLEDs offer diffuse area lighting and can be flexible, efficient, light, thin, transparent, color-tunable and more. OLEDs will probably be used in completely new lighting designs.
Most Lighting companies (including Philips, OSRAM, GE, Lumiotec, Samsung, LG and UDC) are working towards OLED lighting. Many companies are already offering samples and low-volume panels, but prices are still very high and performance is limited. It is expected that the OLED lighting market will take off at about 2015-2016.
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