Back in June I interviewed Mr. Corey Hewitt and Dr. James Buntaine from Kodak OLED Systems. Now the nice guys at Kodak agreed to another interview - this one is focused on OLED for lighting, and I talked to Mr. Steven Van Slyke (R&D directory) and Dr. Yuan-Sheng Tyan, a Research Fellow. So first of all, let's introduce them properly:

Mr. Steven Van Slyke, R&D Director, Kodak OLED Systems 

Steven Van Slyke received his Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Ithaca College and Masters degree in Materials Science from Rochester Institute of Technology.  He joined Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories in 1979 where his work has centered on OLEDs. He has been active in all phases of OLED technology, from basic research on organic materials to development of manufacturing technologies for high volume OLED display production. Mr. Van Slyke is recognized as a co-inventor of small-molecule organic light emitting diodes and is a leading authority on OLED technology. He has published and presented over 40 papers and holds 36 patents in the areas of OLED materials and device architecture.

Dr. Yuan-Sheng Tyan, Research Fellow

Dr. Y. S. Tyan is the Principle Investigator of the DOE sponsored SSL project at Kodak.  Dr. Tyan has a PhD in Materials Science from the University of Minnesota and is a Fellow of the Kodak Research Labs. 

Dr. Tyan joined Eastman Kodak Company in 1973 as a Research Scientist working on photovoltaic solar cells. He joined the OLED program in 2000 and has become a Fellow of Kodak Research Laboratories in 2001.  In the past few years he has been the technical leader for the OLED solid-state-lighting project.  He has 57 issued US patents and many patent applications.

Q: Steven and Dr. Yuan-Sheng - thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. Can you tell us what you guys are doing in the field of White-Light OLEDs and OLED Solid State Lighting (SSL)?
Kodak is enabling the OLED display industry in many ways, through advanced architecture development, improved materials and innovative manufacturing processes. Our expertise in white OLEDs for display applications is being leveraged to develop advanced architectures for SSL. Although the requirements are different for displays and lighting, many of the concepts that enable high efficiency and long lifetime are common. Developing white emitting technology useful for both displays and lighting allows us to maximize our return on R+D investment and results in the creation of valuable technology and know-how.

Q: Do you plan to work only on IP and materials, or will you be releasing your own lighting products?
Kodak is considering several options. Our vision is to enable the OLED SSL industry, through providing know-how, materials, device architectures and cost-effective manufacturing technology to lighting providers.

Q: OLED lighting will enable new applications... do you have your own ideas on what they might be?
We think the possibilities are very exciting. For example, windows that change to displays have been shown at trade shows. The potential for curved or flexible lighting will allow designers to create new and exciting lighting products.   

Q: The last time we talked, you said you demonstrated an OLED device architecture having an efficacy of over 55 lm/W. Is there any news? Do you have better numbers today?
Kodak is continuously improving the efficacy of our white lighting architectures. We have recently fabricated several devices with efficacies over 60 lm/W, a 10% improvement over a 6-month period. This remarkable efficacy exceeds the target of the DOE Energy Star Program for SSL while maintaining a color and CRI that meet specifications. The architecture is based on small molecule OLED and comprises four key technology components that enable this achievement: an internal light extraction-enhancement structure, a low voltage design, a stacked architecture, and a fluorescent-phosphorescent hybrid emitter system.

You can view an example prototype image from Kodak to the right

Unlike other companies that claim higher efficacy numbers, Kodak is committed to providing OLEDs that meets DOE Energy Star specifications, which will need to be met in order for any manufacturer to sell into the lighting market. For any successful lighting product, the lifetime is also very important and we have focused on a hybrid emitter system due to the expected higher lifetime in comparison to an all-phosphorescent emitter system.

Q: One of the applications for white-light OLEDs is backlighting for LCDs... Do you work towards this goal as well?

The technical requirements for backlighting applications are particularly challenging, at this time. For example, the OLED needs to operate at very high brightness (over 7,000 cd/m2) and color temperature (over 10,000K), while still maintaining long lifetime (> 60,000 h).  In the near term, we have decided to focus on developing the technology needed to enable the lighting industry. Given our recent successes, we are confident in our approach and will continue to evaluate performance versus specifications for various applications.

Q: There are many competitors for OLED white-light, from the US, EU and Japan. What sets you apart?
Kodak is the pioneer of OLED technology and has been intensively developing OLED technology for over 30 years. The W->RGBW concept for OLED displays, invented by Kodak for making display panels using white OLED and color filters, is gaining acceptance by the OLED industry. With respect to lighting, we not only have world-class expertise in OLED materials and OLED device architectures, but also have developed many other technologies that are key to the success of OLED lighting. A few examples:

  • Internal light extraction-enhancement structures that more than double the out-coupling efficiency of white OLEDs;
  • Monolithic-integrated serial connection panel architecture that enables the fabrication of large area lighting panels with low cost and minimal IR loss.  This structure is also fault tolerant, reducing the impact of shorting defects;
  • Short-reduction layer that reduces the density of shorting defects by orders of magnitude, which can greatly improve the manufacturing yield of OLED lighting panels;
  • Vapor Injection Source Technology (VIST) will drastically reduce the manufacturing cost of OLED lighting panels by increasing material utilization and reducing TAC time;
  • Tandem OLED architecture that allows significant improvement in lifetime and enables a convenient method to balance the OLED emission to meet the Energy Star color requirements; and
  • Low cost encapsulation technology.

Q: OSRAM has released the world's first OLED lamp a few months ago... with a beautiful design. What do you think about that move?
We congratulate OSRAM on their accomplishment.  Osram has created a truly striking OLED lamp, which greatly enhances the awareness of the potential for OLED lighting.

Q: Several companies have given an estimated time frame for their own OLED lighting products.  OSRAM in 2011/2012, GE in 2010, Konica Minolta 2011 and Philips as early as 2009. Can you give your own estimates?
Kodak is ready to enable the SSL industry with advanced materials, device architectures and cost-effective manufacturing techniques as manufacturers ramp-up the lighting market.

Q: It seems that the EU is pushing strongly on OLED for lighting with several EU-funded projects, involving many companies. In Japan, several companies are also collaborating (via Lumiotec). In the US however, we hardly see collaboration, although the US DOE is financing many projects. Why is that?
Even though there are relatively few high profile OLED lighting projects in the US compared to other counties, there are significant collaborations between companies. Kodak’s mission is to enable the OLED industry on a worldwide basis, including the EU and Japan, and will collaborate with other companies or agencies and participate in joint projects where appropriate.

Q: Where do you see the lighting market in a few years?
According to Nanomarkets, consumers can expect to find OLED technology in solid-state lighting applications beginning 2010, with more than $5B in annual revenue by 2015, which is less than a 2% penetration rate of the overall lighting market.

Q: When do you think we'll be able to actually buy an OLED 'LAMP'?
The exciting news is that OLED lamps are available today, with more coming soon. OSRAM is selling their desktop lamp and Philips is offering an OLED lighting kit.  The Lumiotech project plans to have luminaires available soon, as well. 

Q: Where do you see Kodak's OLED SSL business in 5 years?
As the industry converts to OLED, Kodak will be creating value for its shareholders, through potential business collaborations and industry wide licensing initiatives that will leverage Kodak’s brand and extensive intellectual property portfolio. If you consider the Kodak brand, you think, “Ease of Use, Trust, and Quality”. Kodak is committed to creating and utilizing sustainable technologies. The benefits presented by OLED lighting, for example energy savings via less recycling and removal of hazardous materials such as mercury, are important attributes to Kodak, and the values that the Kodak brand represents. Kodak is excited about the future, and looks forward to seeing Kodak technology in OLED SSL products.

Steven and Dr. Yuan-Sheng, thank you again for this interesting interview, and I wish you and Kodak good luck with all your OLED light program - obviously we can all benefit when OLED light bulb will be available.