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Samsung YOUM flexible OLEDs: technology explained

In January 2013 Samsung officially launched their flexible OLED displays, calling them YOUM displays. YOUM panels are bendable - but it's likely that the first products to use those displays will actually be rigid. The display can be "curved" though. A plastic based AMOLED will also be shatterproof, and also lighter and thinner compared to glass based OLEDs. Check out Samsung's YOUM demonstration from CES 2013 in the video below:

In October 2013, Samsung announced the world's first product to use a flexible OLED display - the Galaxy Round curved smartphone. This is an Android 4.3 smartphone similar to the Galaxy Note 3, with the major feature being the 5.7" Full-HD curved (400 mm curvature radius) flexible display (samsung simply refers to it as a flexible Super AMOLED, strangely they are not using the YOUM brand).

Samsung Galaxy Round photo

Flexible OLEDs are lightier and thinner compared to glass-based panels, and they should also be much more durable. In fact in the past they were said to be shatterproof, although Samsung did not mention this during the Galaxy Round release.

Samsung 5'' curved YOUM display prototypeA curved OLED prototype device (Samsung)

The YOUM logo indeed suggests curved display panels:

YOUM logo

When will we see the first YOUM product?

As we said, in October 2013 Samsung finally launched the first flexible OLED product, although this was not branded as YOUM. Samsung announced they have started to mass produce flexible OLEDs - 5.7" Full-HD panels.

Samsung currently capacity is about 8,000 5.5-Gen sheets, which is about 1-1.5 million 5" panels a month assuming 100% yield. But they are producing larger panels, yields won't be that high and the line is also used for R&D which means that actual production will be a few hundreds of thousands of panels a month.

As you can see, Samsung's capacity is very limited (consider the fact that they currently make around 10 million 5" AMOLEDs in a month for the Galaxy S4). So at first Samsung will not use these panels in a mass market phone. As we said, some reports suggest that Samsung will unveil a Galaxy Note 3 variant with a flexible OLED - this phone will be lighter, thinner and more durable than the regular Note 3.

A YOUM phone/tablet prototype photo

How are YOUM panels fabricated

According to reports, Samsung is using LTPS for their plastic based panels. The production process is too hot for the plastic substrate (it will melt) and so the LTPS transistors are deposited on glass and the glass is later delaminated.

Some say that Samsung's real bottle neck in flexible OLED production is the encapsulation technology. Samsung is currently using Vitex's multi-layer technology which is very slow (the panel has to enter the evaporation chamber 6 times). Samsung is said to be evaluating UDC's UniversalBarrier technology and Veeco's FAST-ALD.

Further reading

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