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What is the OLED technology all about?

OLED panels are made from organic (carbon based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied through them. Since OLEDs do not require a backlight and filters (unlike LCD displays), they are more efficient, simpler to make, and much thinner. OLEDs have a great picture quality - brilliant colors, fast response rate and a wide viewing angle. OLEDs can also be used to make OLED lighting - thin, efficient and without any bad metals.

Continental flexible AMOLED based car display prototype

OLED materials have been discovered back in 1960, but only in the past 20 years or so have researchers started to actually work on the technology. A complete history of OLEDs can be found here. You can read more about OLED displays and advantages in our OLED introduction page.

How do OLEDs work?

The basic structure of an OLED is a cathode (which injects electrons), an emissive layer and an anode (which removes electrons). Modern OLED devices use many more layers in order to make them more efficient, but the basic functionality remains the same.

How an OLED panel is made

Making an OLED involves several steps: taking a substrate, cleaning it, making the backplane (the switching and driving circuitry), depositing and patterning the organic layers and finally encapsulation the whole thing to prevent dust, oxygen and moisture damage.

There are several ways to deposit and pattern the organic layers. Currently most OLED displays are made using vacuum evaporation, using a Shadow Mask (FMM, Fine Metal Mask) to pattern. This is a relatively simple method but it is inefficient and very difficult to scale up to large substrates. There are several alternatives - mostly using soluble OLED materials that are deposited using printing methods. OLED makers hope that these processes will prove to be more scalable and more efficient than vacuum deposition processes.