Article last updated on: May 15, 2021

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) are light emitting panels made from organic (carbon based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied. OLED are used today to make beautiful and efficient displays and large, efficient and beautiful lighting panels.

Stage Entertainment Hamburg Theatre OLED installation 2 photo

An OLED 'light bulb' is a thin film of material that emits light. OLED is the only technology that can create large "area" lighting panels (as opposed to point or line lighting enabled by LEDs and fluorescent bulbs). OLEDs can be used to make flexible and transparent panels, and can also be color-tunable. OLEDs emit beautiful soft diffused light - in fact OLEDs lighting is the closest light source to natural light (with the exception of the old incandescent lamps).

LG Chem truly flexible OLED lighting panel photo

The OLED lighting market

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 2021.

In the early years, several large lighting makers (including GE, Philips, OSRAM, LG, Konica Minolta, 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.



There are several companies that still develop and produce OLED lighting panels, but the production volume is still small and most makers target niche markets such as the automotive, health and premium designer markets. Some makers are also offering OLED lamps - click here for our OLED lamp listings.

Further reading

The latest OLED lighting news:

Look Labs launches a hoodie integrated with OLED lighting

Design house Look Labs announced a new product, a Hoodie called the omfy420 Metalight Hoodie that features the design house's CryptoPunk #5402, which is targeted for gamers who play Look Labs' own 420 game and can buy the hoodie from within the game and

The Hoodie features an Inuru's OLED lighting device which lights up the eyes of the figure in the hoodie. Inuru's OLEDispowered by an integrated thin-film battery that can be recharged wirelessly, and the whole system is washable and easy to integrate into textiles.

OLED lighting - always look on the bright side

Some years ago, OLED lighting was a great promise. OLED panels can offer a beautiful light source, uniform emission, very high (system) efficiency, flexible and transparent functionality and designs that cannot be matched by other lighting types. OLED devices offer high light quality and a healthier type of light, as well.

All major lighting makers attempted to develop OLED lighting: Philips, GE, Osram, NEC , LG and others. But most companies gave up, as the high production costs and challenging competition from LED lighting were too much to tackle.

But OLED lighting is still being developed, by several players, and it is making good headways in some markets, especially the automotive one. Here are some recent announcements that will hopefully make you more positive about the future of OLED lighting:

OLED webinar to introduce OLED lighting manufacturing and R2R production

An AILU (Association of Industrial Laser Users) webinar, scheduled for September 15, will introduce the basics of OLED lighting, discuss the choice for the right substrate and encapsulation material as well as the current status of roll-to-roll processing. The webinar is sponsored by 3D Micromac, the industry leader in laser micromachining and roll-to-roll laser systems.

The webinar will also show results from the EU-funded LAOLA project, which is a collaboration between German and Japanese companies and research institutes. The LAOLA project, led by the Fraunhofer FEP, develops the use of ultra-thin flexible glass as a substrate and encapsulation material in roll-to-roll technology for this purpose.

OLED developments at the IIT's FlexE Center

The National Center for Flexible Electronics (FlexE) was established in 2014 as a Centre of Excellence at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur. The vision of the center is to "catalyse the development of domestic industry in the field of large area flexible electronics".

OLED lighting prototypes, FlexE Center

The FlexE center has some interesting OLED projects, and we recently had a discussion with researchers from the center to learn more about the OLED R&D activities.

NTHU develops an efficient and long lasting bluelight-free tandem OLED device

Taiwan's National Tsing-Hua University (NTHU) Professor Jou and Dr. Wen have been developing OLED lighting technologies for many years, focusing on healthy bluelight-free OLEDs (so-called candle-light OLEDs) due to the hazards of modern lighting.

Light source spectrum comparison (NTHU, tandem OLED)

The researchers now report they have developed a new tandem-OLED device that improves the efficiency and lifetime of their candle-light OLEDs. The OLED's emission is totally blue-light free, which makes it even safer compared to NTHU's first-gen candle-light OLEDs.

Yeolight shows new automotive OLED taillight prototypes, based on flexible and triangular panels

China-based OLED lighting developer Yeolight Technology published two new videos that demonstrate the company's latest OLED technologies. You can see the company's segmented triangular based modules, and also a module based on flexible red panels:

The triangular-based OLED, which the company refers to as digital OLED taillight (it reminds us of Audi's technology, produced by OLEDWorks, which goes by the same name), uses modules that use 50 segments (each a right-angled triangle with an area of 19 mm2). We do not have any information on the flexible panels.

OLED lighting may benefit your sleep, and even help reduce weight

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan have compared the effects of LED and OLED lighting on physical processes that occur during sleep. The researchers show that OLED exposure has a reduced effect on sleep architecture and energy metabolism.

LED and OLED sleep lab (University of Tsukuba)

OLED devices emits white light which contains less blue light compared to LED devices, and this does not lead to any effect on sleep architecture, but it does reduce energy expenditure and core body temperature. In addition, fat oxidation during sleep was significantly lower after exposure to LED compared with OLED. Thus OLED lighting has a similar effect to that of dim light.

OLED-Info overhauls its Automotive OLED Market Report

In early July, we published our quarterly update for our Automotive OLED Market Report. The update this time was comprehensive, as we overhauled the complete report.

The OLED Automotive market is heating up. AMOLED displays (mostly flexible ones) are finally being adopted by commercial cars, while OLED lighting panels continue to be designed into high-end automotive taillights as the ultimate lighting solution.

OLEDWorks receives an SBIR grant to develop stacked OLED lighting technologies

OLED lighting developer OLEDWorks announced that was awarded with a new US federal SBIR grant to develop OLED technologies.

Under this new project, OLEDWorks will develop new OLED automotive taillights composed of multiple stacked layers of red and white OLEDs. This technology can also be applied to indoor lighting to provide greater efficiency, a broader intensity range, and the ability to communicate safety information.

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