OSRAM is one of the leading companies developing (and marketing) OLED lighting. Dr. Ulrich Eisele, head of OSRAM's OLED unit, was kind enough to answer a few questions we had for him regarding OSRAM's OLED program:
Q: You recently presented a new flexible OLED that features 32 lm/W. Can you us some more information on this panel?
A: The outstanding feature of the flexible OLED shown is that the production is based on well-tried OSRAM OLED processes. The production line is located in Regensburg (Bavaria), so we can benefit from our local expertise.
Q: What kind of applications do you see for a flexible OLED lighting panel? What are the use cases?
A: There are 3 different kinds of use cases:
- Traditional: thanks to the flexible OLED, designers and light planners enjoy greater freedom of design. They can break up with classical rigid forms of luminaires, for example creating flexible lamp shades. Such an application has clear efficiency benefits. While a classical one is absorbing photons from the light source behind, a flexible OLED is directly emitting diffuse light.
- Traditional applications with additional benefit: for example automotive rear lamps that have a three-dimensional character and that combine design and safety.
- New applications: for example flexible room dividers or furnishings that become a light source at night (vase, mirror, window).
Q: A few weeks ago the University of Toronto announced the "world's most efficient flexible OLED" - with very little details. How does your OLED panel compare?
A: So far, there is no real technical data available. That is why we are not able to compare our flexible OLEDs with real data of the OLED of the Toronto research group.
Q: The new panel was made as part of the TOPAS project. Can you explain this project and give us some updates?
A: The TOPAS project received public support, i.a. by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Aixtron. Its fundamental goal was to link transparency and lumen/watt. This goal was achieved.
Q: OLEDs can be made flexible and/or transparent. What do you think is more useful for lighting purposes? What kind of panels will reach the market first in your opinion? And when will that be?
A: Of course the combination offers additional potential for the 3 OLED use cases (please see above).
Q: You recently unveiled a new production line in Regensburg. You claimed it will reduce your panel prices by 90% - mostly due to volume. When will that happen?
A: The OLED cost trend (lm/W) will face a similar cost trend such as LED.
Q: Can we expect Orbeos-like panels for 16 euros or so then? Will it make its way into retail?
A: It is very likely that OLED will be supplied via several channels in the future (similar to LED). However, in our opinion, OLED Retrofits are not to be expected.
Q: The new line will be able to produce transparent panels, too. Do you have any actual plans to start offering such panels?
A: We actually can produce transparent panels in Regensburg. The product mix, however, will be aligned with the specific needs and wishes of our customers.
Q: OSRAM's current Orbeos panels aren't very efficient. Philips and KM already produce more efficient panels (using phosphorescent materials). When do you plan to start making more efficient panels? Will you use phosphorescent materials too?
A: With an efficiency of 87 lm/W, OSRAM currently holds the record. At light+building we will present OLED panels which remain at benchmark level, regarding performance and quality. For example, OSRAM OLED don’t need any getter thanks to our innovative thin film encapsulation. The customer benefit is obvious: The back side of the panel is almost as beautiful as the front side (no big black “disc”).
Q: Where do you see OLED lighting in the future? Do you think OLEDs will penetrate the 'general lighting' market or will it remain a niche premium product?
A: The future of OLED has only just begun, and its development will be as dynamic as it is for LED. Based on the 3 defined use classes OLED will be well suited for mass market applications. At the same time OLED will become a tailor-made product which fit the specific needs of customers (design, performance).
Thank you for your time Dr. Ulrich, I wish both you and OSRAM good luck!