* First of all, thank you for doing this interview... Let's begin. There are many OLED IP companies. Obviously Kodak is one of the major ones. How do you position Kodak today?

Kodak has more than 1,900 worldwide patents and applications covering a wide range of OLED technology, and we are constantly filing new ones at approximately 100 patents per year, for the past several years. Kodak will continue to be a leader in OLED intellectual property for many years to come. Kodak’s leadership in OLED technology has been shown several times at trade shows via partnership collaborations with Samsung SEC (14” AMOLED panel), LPL 3” AMOLED panel, and CMEL 8” panels.

In addition, much of the Kodak OLED IP used for displays is suitable for OLED solid state lighting (SSL) applications. SSL serves as yet another great opportunity for OLED to provide the world with benefits such as low energy consumption, cleaner environment, and reduced waste.

* Can you compare your OLED IP against CDT's PLED? And UDC's PHOLEDs? Do you collaborate with those two?
Improvements in OLED device performance via material and architectural changes are critical for the success of the OLED display industry. The continual invention of new and better performing materials and novel architectures for their incorporation into devices has led to significant advances in this industry in recent years. Kodak has been, and continues to be a leader in innovation for improved display performance, which reinforces Kodak’s IP position not only in materials, but also all across the OLED value chain.

Recent improvements in fluorescent devices includes:
  • Deep Blue: 6.6% E.Q.E, 8 cd/A, CIEx,y = 0.14, 0.13, 5,000 hours lifetime at 10 mA/cm2
  • Blue: 8% E.Q.E., 11cd/A, CIEx,y = 0.15, 0.18, 10,000 hours lifetime at 1,000 cd/m2
  • Green: 8.5% E.Q.E., 30 cd/A, > 50,000 hours lifetime at 1,000 cd/m2
  • Red: 9.4% E.Q.E., 12.7 cd/A, > 35,000 hours lifetime at 1,000 cd/m2
  • White tandem: 10.7% E.Q.E., 24.5 cd/A, CIEx,y = 0.33, 0.35, 100,000 hours lifetime at 1,000 cd/m2

For full-color pixilated RGB displays, new materials in development at Kodak provide outstanding lifetime and power consumption. Critical new technologies include Electron Transfer Layer and Electron Injection Layer materials enabling low OLED voltage and high efficiency; high-efficiency blue and green dopants that reduce the operating current density; and stable host materials for blue and green emitters.

For displays, Kodak has pioneered the W-RGBW pixel architecture. This consists of a WOLED with four sub-pixels per pixel. Three sub-pixels emit through red, green or blue color filters, and the fourth has no filter, leaving it white. This scheme delivers high efficiency, enables larger displays and significantly improves manufacturing yield for displays of all sizes. In addition, Kodak's proprietary set of color filters enables a previously unattainable level of color gamut, while maintaining high efficiency. Combining Kodak's pixel architecture, color filter, OLED materials and architecture advancements yields displays that have high power efficiency, greater than 100% NTSC x,y color gamut, and are estimated to have a half-life much greater than 100,000 hours.

Recent work with phosphorescent emitters has led to the following improvements:
  • Hybrid white fluorescent/phosphorescent system with 33 lm/W at CIE x,y = 0.32, 0.35
  • Mixed phosphorescent host technology gives 64 lm/W for green at CIE x,y = 0.30, 0.63
  • Synthetic procedure for triplet dopants with higher stability in manufacturing processes
* We are hearing a lot of hype lately about OLEDs - many companies promise to deliver OLED TVs in 2008-9, and several are promising 10"-14" panels soon for laptop displays. Do you think that OLEDs are finally ready for primetime?
We believe that OLEDs displays are indeed ready for primetime. We also believe Kodak OLED technology represents a significant opportunity. Leading organizations worldwide recognize the potential for OLED technology to revolutionize the flat-panel display industry and change how and where people access information and entertainment. The burgeoning worldwide OLED industry is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2012 according to market research group Display Search.

* You have recently signed a cross-license with LG Display. Can you give some more info? When can we expect them to release displays with your IP?
The license, which is royalty bearing to Kodak, enables LG Display to use Kodak technology, including yield-improving capabilities for AMOLED modules, in a variety of small to medium size display applications such as mobile phones, portable media players, picture frames, and small TVs. The agreement also enables LG Display to purchase Kodak's patented OLED materials for use in manufacturing displays.

Recently, KAGA Electronics of Japan announced the introduction of the world's thinnest, lightest portable 1-Seg televisions featuring a full-color, 3.0-inch OLED display utilizing Kodak’s AMOLED technology, which includes Kodak’s patented Global Mura Compensation that provides overall yield improvement. The KODAK ELITE VISION AMOLED 1-Seg TV was co-developed by Kodak, LG Display, KAGA Electronics and Andes Electronics and is available in Japan. Please see this youtube link for more details regarding Kodak’s advanced OLED technology.

* LGDisplay recently showed a 15" XGA display. Is this prototype using your IP and materials? The contrast ratio was rather poor (1:10K) compared to Sony's XEL-1 (1:1M). Why is that?
Due to confidentiality reasons, Kodak is unable to comment.

* In January 2008 CMEL reported they will manufacture 7.6" AMOLEDs for Kodak (after signing a cross-license deal). Was that report true? If so, when can we expect such large panels to be available?
CMEL has a license, which is royalty bearing to Kodak, enables CMEL to use Kodak technology for AMOLED. It is Kodak's understanding the report was issued by Digitimes in Chinese language, and can be confirmed by Kodak as not an official press release, nor was the English translation performed accurately. Due to confidentiality reasons, Kodak is unable to comment further.

* OLED for white-light is very exciting. We are seeing a lot of progress in this field lately. Will Kodak take part?
Eastman Kodak has succeeded in demonstrating an OLED device architecture having an efficacy over 55 lm/W. This remarkable architecture exceeds the efficacy specification requirements of the DOE Energy Star Program for SSL while maintaining a color (0.387, 0.389) and CRI (83.6) that meet the specifications. The architecture is based on small molecule OLED and comprises four key technology components that enable this achievement: internal light extraction-enhancement structure, low voltage design, stacked architecture, and fluorescent-phosphorescent hybrid emitters.

Unlike other companies that claim higher efficacy numbers, Kodak is committed to providing accurate information that meets DOE Energy Star specifications to show the real potential for a lighting application. If Kodak elected to measure outside the color and CRI specifications, Kodak technology would also show much higher efficacy numbers. In order to demonstrate realistic architectures, Kodak elected to use hybrid emitters due to their potential for much longer lifetime, even though their theoretical efficacy is lower than an all-phosphorescent systems used by other companies.


* Do you think it's realistic to expect commercial white-light products around 2011?
According to the studies by the DOE's CALiPER project and by the Lighting Research Institute, OLED based lighting panels at 50 lm/W are already more efficacious than most luminaires on the market today. Market research companies, such as Nanomarkets, predict early product applications of solid state lighting in architectural and specialty lighting. They estimate general illumination to be a product application by 2011. Kodak ‘s goal is to enable the solid state lighting industry by providing Energy Star compliant technology to the world.

* Another great feature of OLEDs is the ability to make them flexible. Are you researching flexible OLEDs?
Kodak is always evaluating future OLED potential applications.

* Do you think OLEDs will be the major next-gen display tech? Or are there any other competing technologies that might "win" the race?
Technology is always marching forward and inventions are always being made. Emerging technology improvements in the LCD field pose the biggest challenge to OLED, although LCD manufacturing is much further out in the maturity cycle vs. OLED. There are numerous emerging emissive display technologies (CNT-FED, SED, inorganic LED, laser TVs, etc.) and it is difficult to make general statements about which ones might be able to compete with OLED and when, because OLED is also continuously improving. There does not appear to be any emerging technology in the emissive display field that has such a broad set of potential advantages that OLED can offer (e.g., power, cost, viewing angle, color gamut, form factor flexibility).

Kodak's unwavering commitment to OLED is based upon nearly three decades of research and investment. During that interval, other display technologies have come and gone, such as FED. We believe OLED to be the dominant display technology of the future and will continue to invest and focus our research accordingly. Leading companies such as Kodak, CMEL, LPL, Sony, Canon, Samsung, Matsushita, and Panasonic are all investing in OLED, and appears that OLED is a strong candidate for continuing to be the leader for future emerging display technologies for many years to come.

* The biggest news in the OLED world in this past year has been Sony's XEL-1 TV. What do you think about that? Is Sony using your IP? Was Sony wise to release that TV so soon?
Sony XEL1Kodak is happy to see Sony demonstrate AMOLED's benefits such as black level, viewing angle, thinness, and fast response time vs. LCD technology. As mentioned in the overview section, Kodak is enabling the industry with its superior IP and know-how, and understands there will need to be multiple players within the OLED industry for future success. Kodak has solutions to some of the industry challenges pertaining to lifetime, image degregation, and architecture via WOLED for scalability, which will provide an additional springboard to the OLED industry. Kodak is unable to comment specifically about IP due to confidentiality purposes, but can confirm use of Kodak OLED technology in their product.

* When do you think we can realistically buy a commercial OLED TV?
OLED is the next display technology and will compete in the full spectrum of size ranges. Today, the 11-inch and 3-inch TV sizes are available in selected countries. The best choice for the future larger display will be OLED, initially based on product performance attributes, and eventually based on low-cost manufacturing advantages.

As for the future, which includes large size, it is obvious this will take a bit more time for return on investment. Major TV companies appear to be investing for this play and the next couple years will be exciting to watch who becomes the OLED TV leader.

Where do you see the OLED market in 5 years?
The small panel market is ramping as we speak. DisplaySearch's recent OLED Technology report results: OLEDs are expected to surge 69% to more than $827M in 2008, and then grow by 83% in 2009 and 53% in 2010 as AMOLED displays become mainstream. AMOLEDs are projected to achieve a 5-year CAGR of 96%. Companies such as Sony, Samsung SDI, LG Display, and CMEL will deliver almost 17M displays in 2008, which is up over 380% compared to 2007. By 2012, AMOLED production will surpass PMOLEDs.
Corey and James - thank you again for this great interview, and I wish you and Kodak good luck with all your OLED ventures...
Kyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emittersKyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emitters