Article last updated on: Jan 17, 2019

OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.

LG OLED TVs

LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).

As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.

LG OLEDW8 photoLG 2018 OLEDW8

Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that these OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality and beautiful form factors. LG is also developing next-generation OLED TV technologies, and has recently demonstrated a 65" rollable TV.

While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.



LG Flexible OLEDs for mobile devices

LG currently produces flexible OLEDs (branded as pOLEDs), for both wearable devices and smartphones. LG is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's Watch smartwatch and it also supplies OLED displays for smartphones - such as the 6.4" 1440x3120 notch-type pOLED used in LG Electronics's V40 ThinQ, introduced in October 2018 and the 6" QHD+ display used by Sony in its Xperia XZ3 flagship. Click here for more information on LG's pOLED displays and its production capabilities.

LG V40 ThinQ photo

LG Transparent OLEDs

LG are also working on transparent OLEDs. In 2014 LGD unveiled a 18" transparent OLED prototype, and later in 2016 LGD demonstrated transparent 55" FHD AMOLED display prototypes. These panels are not yet in production, but hopefully LG will start producing these eventually.

LG OLED Light

LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.

LG Chem truly flexible OLED lighting panel photo

The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.

Further reading

Latest LG OLED news

LG Display to double its transparent OLED display production by the end of 2019

In February 2019 LG Display started producing its 55" FHD transparent commercial OLED displays, and now the company says it plans to double its transparent OLED production in Q4 2019 - and continue to ramp up production years to come. LGD sees possible applications in shop windows, building façades and exhibition spaces.

LG Display is also working with partners such as Planar - who recently announced its 2nd-Gen LookThru (LO552) OLED displays.

OLED lighting 2019: out with the old, in with the new

OLED is an amazing technology for lighting - it creates beautiful, efficient and healthy light sources. OLED lighting has great promise but unfortunately the high price of production is a challenge that no one has managed to overcome and OLED lighting remains a small niche industry as of 2019.

In the early years, several large lighting makers (including GE, Philips, OSRAM, Panasonic, NEC and others) had active OLED lighting programs, but slowly almost all of these companies dropped out of the market - for various reasons - but the main one being that the large investments in large scale production are not certified to lead to market adoption and the competition with LED lighting is extremely difficult.

Graphene for Displays and Lighting Market Report

LG to start offering open cell OLED TV panels from its Guangzhou fab

According to a report from Korea, LG Display is discussing the sale of open-cell OLED panels with TV makers, including China-based Skyworth. The Korean's Elec suggests that LG Display will start offering open-cell OLEDs from its Guangzhou fab which is expected to start producing OLED TV panels by the end of the month.

LG OLEDG8 photo

An open-cell panel can lower the costs for TV makers as each can decide on the assembly process and driver ICs. It could also lead to more innovation and differentiation. Many LCD TV panels are sold in that fashion - but for LG's OLED this will be the first time.

LG Display reports its Q2 2019 results, to invest a further $2.5 billion in its P10 OLED TV fab

LG Display announced its unaudited financial results for Q2 2019, and updated on its upcoming OLED projects.

LGD P10 OLED fab, Paju Korea (March 2019)

First of all, LGD announced an additional investment of KRW 3 trillion ($2.5 billion) P10 10.5-Gen OLED TV fab in Paju. Last month it was reported that LG display has started to install some of the Oxide-TFT deposition equipment (supplied by Applied Materials and Jusung Engineering). The mass production at the first lines in the P10 fab is expected to begin in 2021. LG Display did not disclose any more details regarding this new $2.5 billion investment plan yet.

END: RiTDisplay and PlayNitride to supply Apple with MicroLED displays for its next-gen Watch device

Apple is currently using an LGD 1.57" 394x324 LTPO AMOLED display (1.78" 448x368 on the larger 44mm version) in its latest Watch smart wearable device. Apple's involvement in Micro-LED displays started in 2014 when it acquired LuxVue, and it was always assumed that Apple's main aim for the new display technology is to adopt it in wearable devices.

PlayNitride high-brightness high-density passive-matrix wearable Micro-LED prototype (SID 2019)

According to a new report from Taiwan, PlayNitride and RiTDisplay are in talks with Apple to supply microLED displays for Apple's next-generation Watch wearable. A micro-LED display could offer much higher brightness and efficiency compared to an AMOLED display, both of which could be highly desirable in wearable devices.

DSCC sees the OLED material market growing from $1 billion in 2018 to over $2 billion in 2022

DSCC analysts say that OLED stack materials will grow from $1.04 billion in 2018 to over $2 billion in 2022 - a CAGR of 17%.

OLED material revenue by application (2017-2023, DSCC)

DSCC says that up until now it greatly underestimated Novaled's revenues, and it now says that Novaled generated revenues of $97 million in 2017 and $122 million in 2018. Novaled is the third largest OLED material company by revenue - following Universal Display and Merck. The three companies combined will hold a market share of 56% in 2023.

AVC: OLED TV sales in China to reach 800,000 units in 2020, as China is set to become the world's largest market for OLED TVs

China-based All View Cloud consultancy says that OLED TV sales in China will reach 380,000 units in 2019, (up from 210,000 in 2018 and 120,000 in 2017) and will rise to 800,000 units in 2020. By 2021 or 2021 the sales will surpass 2 million units - which will make China the world's largest market for OLED TVs.

LG 2019 ThinQ AI OLED TV ad

According to AVC, Skyworth is leading the Chinese OLED TV market with 46% of total OLED sales in 2017, followed by LG (16%) and Sony (14.9%). The penetration of OLED TVs in China is relatively low, compared to the US, Europe and Japan and there's much room for growth.

LG Display to start producing OLED TVs in its Guangzhou 8.5-Gen fab next month

In July 2017, LG Display announced its plans to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED TV production line in Guangzhou, China. Following many delays, LGD got the approval for its new OLED TV fab from both the Korean and Chinese governments in July 2018 and started constructing the fab, with an investment of about $4.2 billion.

LGD Guangzhou OLED TV fab render

Today LG Display announced that the Guangzhou fab will start production in August 2019. The fab will begin with test runs in July but it seems that LGD is confident that mass production will begin next month. The initial capacity of this new fab will be 60,000 monthly substrates, which will bring LGD's total OLED TV capacity to 130,000 monthly 8.5-Gen substrates (i.e. will almost double its current capacity).

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.

Samsung W2019 photo

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.

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDsCambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDs