After receiving investments totaling billions of dollars over the past decade, the OLED industry is finally poised to take off. According to NanoMarkets, an industry analyst firm based here, the markets for OLED materials will reach $2.7 billion by 2015.
- The recent announcement by Nokia requiring its vendors to be capable of producing OLED displays is a strong indication that OLED technology is about ready for broader commercial production. GE Global Research's success with roll-to-roll production of OLED devices indicates that OLED lighting may result in greater near term production volume than displays. Sony meanwhile has launched the world's first OLED TV. The rise of lighting and television applications, in particular, are positive for materials suppliers, because these applications require large OLEDs and hence use much more material than the small cell phone and MP3 player displays that have until recently dominated the OLED space.
- OLED lighting has already exceeded the efficiency of fluorescent lamps in laboratory tests, holding out the promise of a new era of power-saving solid-state lighting. As the world becomes more energy conservation oriented and concerned about energy costs this will drive rapid growth for the OLED lighting industry and hence the demand for OLED materials. By 2015, as much as 90 percent of OLED materials by volume will be consumed by lighting applications.
- Flexible substrates including a range of plastic films will rapidly gain a significant share of the market as roll-to-roll processing becomes faster and more efficient. This development will result in lighter weight devices that will open up new applications for product designers. By 2015 about one-third (by area) of all OLEDs will be fabricated on flexible substrates.
- Firms capable of developing and marketing complete materials systems for OLEDs are on the rise. This means that display and lighting buyers can depend on a single supplier who will provide a matched set of materials with pre-determined characteristics. In addition, the fact that these single sources include some of the largest materials firms in the world -- such as DuPont, Merck and Sumitomo Chemical -- will help to guarantee a stable supply of OLED materials for a maturing OLED industry.
- Despite this maturity there is still plenty of room for smaller innovative firms such as Novaled. As the market expands, the number of opportunities opens up to create materials tailored to specific applications and manufacturing processes. Areas where NanoMarkets sees potential are stack designs, hybrid polymer/small molecule approaches, novel forms of doping, and new types of materials for solution processed OLEDs.