OLED is an emerging display technology that enables beautiful and efficient displays and lighting panels. OLEDs are already being used in many mobile devices and TVs, and the next generation of these panels will be flexible and bendable.
Different kinds of flexibility
When we talk about flexible OLEDs, it's important to understand what that means exactly. A flexible OLED is based on a flexible substrate which can be either plastic, metal or flexible glass. The plastic and metal panels will be light, thin and very durable - in fact they will be virtually shatter-proof.
The first range of devices that use flexible OLED displays are not really flexible from the user perspective. The device maker bends the displays, or curves it - but the final user is not able to actually bend the device. Besides the beautiful designs, a flexible OLED has several advantages especially in mobile devices - the displays are lighter, thinner and more durable compared to glass based displays.
Second generation flexible OLED devices may indeed be flexible to the final user. Finally, when the technology is ready, we may see OLED panels that you can fold, bend or stretch. This may create all sorts of exciting designs that will enable large displays to be placed in a mobile device and only be opened when required.
Flexible OLED products
In October 2013, following many years of development and prototype demonstrations, both Samsung and LG Display finally started producing flexible AMOLED displays on plastic (polyimide) substrates. Both Korean companies are now mass producing such displays, which are being used in mobile phones and wearable devices - such as the Galaxy S7 Edge (shown below), the LG G Flex 2 and Apple's Watch.
Samsung Display is currently producing flexible OLEDs in two production lines, the 5.5-Gen A2 and the and the newer A3 6-Gen A3. Samsung is producing around 9 million flexible OLEDs per month - to satisfy demand for its mobile phones and wearables - and Samsung is working on expanding its capacity as demand soars and as Apple ordered around 100 million flexible OLED panels for its future iPhones.
LG Display currently produces plastic-based OLEDs in its Gen-4.5 fab, and is investing $900 million to build new production lines as it also aims to become a major flexible AMOLED producer.
The latest flexible OLED news:
China-based display maker CSoT demonstrated several new OLED display prototypes and technologies at SID 2019, and this great new video shows these displays in action.
First up is a 31" 4K (3840 x 2160, 144 PPI) AMOLED that was produced using an ink-jet printing process on an IGZO substrate. The peak brightness is 200 nits and the refresh rate is 120 Hz. This seems to be the same panel announced in March 2018 by Joshua Printing Display Technology (established by CSoT and Tianma in 2016). The display has some noticable defects.
China-based OLED producer Visionox has demonstrated several new OLED technologies at SID DisplayWeek 2019 last month, and the following great video shows the company's impressive booth and displays.
First up is a foldable OLED display that can be folded inwards and outwards. The panel's folding radius is 5 mm, and Visionox says that it can be folded over 200,000 times. The company did not disclose the exact size and resolution, though.
OLED-Info's foldable, flexible, VR/AR, transparent, microdisplays, PMOLED, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to July 2019
Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive, PMOLED and graphene OLED markets. OLED-Info provides comprehensive niche OLED market reports, and our reports cover everything you need to know about the niche market, and can be useful if you want to understand how the OLED industry works and what this technology can provide for your own industry. The reports are now updated to July 2019.
- Why flexible displays and lighting panels are so exciting
- What kind of flexible displays are currently on the market
- All about the foldable OLED market and industry
- What the future holds for flexible OLEDs
- How to acquire flexible OLEDs for your products
The report package provides a good introduction to the flexible and foldable OLED market - present and future. It details both flexible displays and lighting technologies. Read more here!
OLED production in Korea could be halted by the end of July due to Japan's restriction of free exports
A few days ago we reported on Japan's government decision to restrict some material exports, including fluorinated polyimide, to South Korea, following a diplomatic tension between the two countries.
Polyimide is required for OLED production, and Japan controls about 90% of the world's production. According to a new report from Korea, Samsung and other companies have warned the Korean government that production in some plants could be halted as early as by the end of July if these materials are not available. It is not clear what is the situation of Samsung's (and LG's) OLED production.
China-based BOE Display demonstrated many OLED displays at SID 2019, including new flexible, foldable, rollable and automotive AMOLED displays. Here's a video showing the company's complete SID lineup:
Visionox collaborated with visual processing developer PixelWorks to demonstrate how PixelWork's power efficient processors can enhance the visual quality of Visionox's flexible OLED displays. The demo was based a 5.9" 2160x1080 60Hz flexible AMOLED display.
PixelWorks' Iris platform provides a cost effective solution to provide high-end TV-like HDR experience on a smartphone. The processor enables automatic adaptive displays (that can adapt to the ambient conditions, the content on display, color temperatures and more).
According to a report from Korea, LG Display has halted production at one of its production lines at its E6 production fab, LG's 6-Gen flexible OLED line that commenced production at the end of 2018.
According to the report, the problem lies with LGD's thin film encapsulation equipment - specifically the equipment that deposited the organic particles - which apparently suffers from sub par performance, not good enough for commercial production. LG is using equipment made by its subsidiary LG PRI in the E6-1 line, which is now halted.
China-based display maker TCL announced that its 6-Gen LTPS flexible AMOLED production line in Wuhan has commenced operation. The company already achieved some design wins with "top-class" phone makers and is expected to start shipping OLED displays to its customers in Q4 2019.
TCL's production line in Wuhan (which is actually owned by the company's subsidiary CSoT) will have a production capacity of 45,000 6-Gen substrates.
Intel is showing a new concept laptop design called the Ambient at Computex Taipei 2019. The new laptop has a flexible OLED panel integrated into the touchpad, that is visible when the laptop is closed.
The idea is that you can see information and control some basic functions (like Spotify music) even when the laptop is closed. The touchbar is controlled by its own Atom CPU which means it does not draw much power. This is just a prototype at this stage, it'll be interesting to see whether any laptop maker will adopt this design in future devices.
The Netherlands based SALDtech, established in 2018 as a spinoff from the TNO institute, announced that it closed its 2nd financing round led by Innovation Industries and BOM, Brabant Development agency.
SALDtech developed deposition tools based on the Holst Centre's Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition that can be used to produce large area ultra-thin layers with world class performance. SALDtech says it will used the investment to develop and build flexible OLED production equipment.