In July 2008, I had the chance of interviewing Dr. Michael Fiebig from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors. Dr. Michael Fiebig gained his PhD in Physics at the University of Hanover in 1998. He joined OSRAM Opto Semicondutors in 2001, and since 2008 he is leading the Marketing and Business Development in the business segment Solid State Lighting at OSRAM Opto Semiconductors.

OSRAM is part of the Industry sector of Siemens and one of the two leading lighting manufacturers in the world. Its subsidiary, OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH in Regensburg (Germany), offers its customers solutions based on semiconductor technology for lighting, sensor and visualization applications. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors has production sites in Regensburg (Germany) and Penang (Malaysia).

OSRAM R&D focus lies on OLED technologies for lighting applications. OSRAM is working especially on improving lifetime, brightness and efficiencies. Additionally they focus on manufacturing processes that enable production of large-scale OLED panels in reliable quality and homogeneity.

Q: Hello Michael, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. You have recently shown beautiful OLED "lamp" designs by Ingo Mauer. When can we realistically hope these products will be available?

The luminaire “Early Future” is a piece of art – only available in a limited edition via Ingo Maurer .



The panels used in the Maurer luminaire are only prototypes of possible future products. The progress over the last years was very impressive – especially in terms of power efficiencies. We pursue 3 major R&D tracks : further efficiency & lifetime enhancemens, development of lighting tiles with unique features (e.g. transparency, flexibility) and device design to manufacturability (cost, quality…).

Q: Can you give an estimate to the price of such a table-lamp if it were sold today? Will we see more designs using your panels by Mauer?
The luminaires are brought to the market by Ingo Maurer, please refer for this question directly to Ingo Maurer – www.ingo-maurer.com

Q: Can you give some updates on your current OLED panel's efficiency, lifetime, and other attributes?
What we currently communicated was that after only two years of development, OSRAM has achieved record values in the laboratory for organic light emitting diodes in warm white. With an efficiency of 46 lm/W the organic light emitting diodes for lighting applications have a brightness of 1000 cd/m² and last more than 5000 hours.

Q: The OLLA project, in which you participated, recently delivered the final milestone. A follow-up project (oled100.eu) was announced. Can you give us some more details about these two projects and your role in them?
OSRAM was one of 24 partners (besides Siemens Corporate Technology, some other industrial partners and many universities) in the OLLA project. OLLA means Organic LEDs for ICT & Lighting applications and is EU funded Integrated Project under the 6th framework programme. OSRAM’s and Siemens’ part in this project covers mainly application related topics and polymer device development for OLED Lighting.

A much bigger contribution of OSRAM is to the OLED Initiative 2015 released by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Together with Philips and BASF, OSRAM is driving the development of materials and processes towards high efficiencies, long lifetimes and volume production capable processes.

Q: There are many competitors for OLED lighting. Konica-Minolta, CDT, UDC, and others. Can you comment on those companie's technologies and achievements?

Please understand that due to our communication guidelines we cannot comment the activities of other companies, competitors or other parties.

Q: How do OLED lighting panels fare against non-organic LEDs?
Organic light emitting diodes consist of ultra-thin organic layers that emit light when an electric current is passed through to them. The layers may be either solvent-based polymers or small molecules. In contrast to ordinary light bulbs or LEDs, OLEDs are area light sources. This means that their light emission is originating from a large surface, much like the effect of indirect lighting. This emission characteristic is very much in keeping with the way in which we naturally perceive light. And the special product characteristics such as thinness, light weight, transparency and flexibility enable entirely new forms and types of light source to be developed. At less than 500 nm thick, OLEDs are so thin that they can be applied to any surfaces, even flexible film. Technology always has the greatest success in areas in which its USPs have the greatest effect. For OLEDs, this is the production of extremely thin, efficient, transparent and flexible area light sources with excellent quality of light. The OLED lighting markets will certainly develop as advances are made in the technology and as costs fall.

Q: One of the great aspects of OLED light is the ability to create transparent and flexible panels. Are you working on such products?
In November 2007 we communicated a new record in the laboratory with our transparent OLED. The large-scale prototype (90cm²) is transparent either on or off. Under laboratory conditions it has achieved a luminous efficacy of more than 20 lm/W at a brightness of 1000 cd/m².

Q: In July 2007 you have announced that you will stop making PMOLED displays (your PICTIVA range), and focus on OLED for lighting. Why was this decision taken? It has sure annoyed many system integrators who have depended on your products...
We announced in July 2007 that we will be concentrating our OLED activities on developing market-ready OLED lighting solutions. Worldwide demand for the displays, which are used predominantly in communication systems, industrial applications and mobile consumer electronics, has lagged far behind our expectations, so that OSRAM Opto Semiconductors has decided to withdraw from the display business and concentrate exclusively on the core business of lighting.

Q: Where do you see OLED lighting in 3 years? When do you think we'll actually be able to buy an OLED "lamp"?

OLED light sources captivate with their specific characteristic of the large luminous surface. Already today their light quality and size are considerable. The unique features of organic light emitting diodes will strongly push the transition from light sources for design objects to functional luminaires. Production of transparent OLEDs, as well as the exact definition of luminance and light emitting direction becomes feasible. At the same time, efficiency and brightness are rapidly raised and the improvement in manufacturing processes permits production at higher quantities. Lighting applications with to date unknown impressions will emerge.

In general lighting, such innovative applications could be transparent OLEDs in skylights and windows. In the daytime, the room is filled with natural light; at night the OLED provide lighting. Instead of turning to dark planes at night, sometimes considered an unpleasant visual, the windows become luminaires. OLED lighting will also convince in other areas of application. In a car, transparent backlights could be integrated into the rear window. However, OSRAM’s development objective is high volume production for general lighting.

This third phase, the mass-market phase, will commence as soon as OLED can be produced in large numbers and at highest quality standards, presuming a rising global demand. The OLED ECO Lighting falls into line with OSRAM’s development and research program, which aims at sustainability by providing efficient high quality light sources with large capacity and a long lifetime. OLED, an economical and ecological light source will become an important addition to the wide spectrum of general lighting and will attractively complement the light portfolio.

Michael - thank you for this interview. I hope we'll hear more of your OLED lighting research and products soon. Good luck!

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