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

OLED lighting on the market

Several companies already offer OLED lighting panels - including Philips/OLEDWorks, Osram, LG, Konica Minolta and others. Current production lines are still small, and prices are still high, but we see rapid advances in performance and price and hopefully OLED lighting prices will drop dramatically once mass production is achieved.

Above you can see a video review we posted a couple of years ago, showing sample OLED panels from Philips, OSRAM, Blackbody and Lumiotec. Current panels on the market are larger, brighter and more efficient than those available back then, and some companies already produce flexible and transparent panels as well.

The OLED lighting market

There are several companies that produce OLED panels, but most of these panels should be considered as "samples" as production volume is low. The leading OLED producers at this stage are LG Display, OLEDWorks/Philips and Konica Minolta. LG is offering the widest range of panels, including flexible panels and the largest OLED in production (at 320 x320 mm).

Philips/OLEDWorks is focused on functional light - bright, efficient and homogenous panels. The company's main panel is the FL300 Brite Lumiblade, which is a 100x100 mm panel that offers a 300 lumens, 50 lm/W, 10,000 hours lifetime (LT70) and is only 1.4 mm thick.

Konica Minolta built the world's most advanced OLED fab - a Roll-to-Roll flexible OLED lighting fab - that has a capacity to produce a million flexible and color-tunable OLED panels each month. The Japanese company recently announced that it shipped 15,000 flexible OLEDs to a Japanese Tulips Festival - by far the largest OLED installation to date, but real mass production at that fab is yet to be achieved

Konica Minolta Shining Tulip Festival photo

OLED lighting future

It is still not clear when and if OLED lighting will break out and become a real market. Most market analysts agree that OLED lighting will eventually become a large market - but it will take time.

IDTechEx OLED lighting cost and market (2016-2025)IDTechEx OLED lighting forecasts (April 2016)

IDTechEx estimates that the OLED lighting market will reach more than $1.8 billion in 2025 at the panel level. IDTechEx is optimistic about OLED lighting in the long term - because "OLED lighting exhibits key characteristics of a disruptive technology". Yole Developpement predict a $1.5 billion OLED lighting market in 2021 (up from nearly $30 million in 2015).

Further reading

Latest OLED lighting news

The Fraunhofer FEP, NSMAT and MSSMC developed an OLED on a stainless steel substrate

Sep 21, 2017

The Fraunhofer FEP institute, in collaboration with Nippon Steel & Sumikin Materials (NSMAT) and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC), developed a new OLED lighting prototype that is made on a stainless steel substrate.

OLED on stainless steel prototype (Fraunhofer, NSMAT, NSSMC)

The researchers say that a stainless steel substrate has several advantages compared to glass or plastic - it has excellent thermal conductivity and excellent barrier properties. The lighting panel features an extremely homogenous OLED light, thanks to the planarization layer developed by NSSMC. The prototype panel was produced at the Fraunhofer's R2R research line.

UBI: the OLED lighting market will reach $1.9 billion by 2021

Sep 17, 2017

UBI Research says that LG Display will start mass producing OLED lighting panels at its 5-Gen fab by the end of September 2017, which will the growth period of the OLED lighting market.

OLED lighting market forecast (2017-2025, UBI)

According to UBI, the market will reach panel sales of $1.9 billion by 2021, and continue its fast growth to reach $5.8 billion by 2025. That's a CAGR of 85% from 2017 to 2025!

OLED Handbook

The National Palace Museum of Korea adopts OLED lighting from LGD

Sep 15, 2017

The National Palace Museum of Korea in Seoul has replaced its lighting system with OLED lighting panels made by LG Display, significantly decreasing the amount of unwanted shadows and glare.

OLED lighting at the national palace museum of Korea

The OLED lighting panels also takes up less space than the previous system - the museum has old-fashioned low ceiling which made it difficult to light properly, and the museum curator explains that the low temperatures of the panels enabled them to place the lighter closer to the exhibited items without loss of damage.

Mercedes unveiled its 2018 S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet with OLED taillights

Sep 05, 2017

Last month Mercedes-Benz announced it will unveil its 2018 S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet cars, and both will sport OLED Taillights. The company now officially unveiled its "dream-car" models with these beautiful OLED modules:

Mercedes 2018 S-Class Coupe back photo

We do not know who produces these OLEDs... but it is likely to be OSRAM (who provides the OLED panels to Audi and BMW). It could also be LGD who is reportedly also entering this market. It's not clear yet whether these OLEDs are optional (as was the case in the Audi TT 2016). Each module uses 33 individually controlled red OLED panels.

Merck and OLEDWorks demonstrate a new OLED/OPV installation concept

Sep 01, 2017

Merck, OLEDWorks, OPVIUS and Kolon launched a new textile-based "façade" concept that combines OLED lighting panels and OPV (organic PV panels). The new structure was launched as part of the first Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.

Merck & OLEDWorks OLED/OPV Facade (Seoul, Sep-17)

The façade, in which the structure is made from Bamboo, was designed by architects Nikolaus Hirsch, Michel Müller and artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. The same installation will also be delivered to more exhibitions in Germany and Thailand during 2018.

Mercedes to introduce OLED taillights in its upcoming S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet cars

Aug 30, 2017

Mercedes-Benz will unveil its upcoming S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet cars at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. These new premium cars will sport OLED lighting - Mercedes released the teaser you see below.

Mercedes adopted red OLED panels, and each module includes 33 individually controlled OLED panels. It will be great to see these cars next month, hopefully the OLEDs will be used in all models (in Audi's case, the OLED Taillights are optional extras).

LGD in talks with German automakers to supply them with OLED lighting panels

Aug 29, 2017

A few days ago we posted that LG Display demonstrated an OLED Taillight module - the first time LGD actually unveiled an OLED lighting design for the automotive market. According to a new article in Business Korea, LGD is indeed in advanced talks with Germany automakers to supply OLED lighting systems starting in 2018.

According BK, LGD is in talks with Mercedes Benz, Audi and Volkswagen. The OLED lighting panels will be produced at LGD's upcoming 5-Gen OLED lighting fab. LGD's should start low-volume production soon, and the company aims to ramp-up production to 15,000 monthly substrates by the end of 2017.

LG Display shows an automotive OLED taillight design

Aug 25, 2017

While LG Display has been demonstrating automotive OLED displays for a long time (based on its plastic flexible OLEDs, mostly) with plans to enter the market in 2018, its OLED lighting business unit has been pretty quiet in this front.

LG Electronics now published the video you see above that shows an OLED lighting automotive taillights, based on LGD flexible OLED lighting panels. Not a lot of details in this video besides showing a sample module - but it is great to see LG Display targeting automotive OLED lighting which could be the first major market to adopt OLED lighting technologies.

Pioneer expects its flexible OLED lighting to hit the automotive market by 2020

Aug 24, 2017

In June 2017 Konica Minolta and Pioneer established a new OLED Joint Venture called Konica Minolta Pioneer OLED, which will combine the OLED business and product divisions of both companies, with a focus on automotive applications.

Pioneer flexible OLED taillight prototype (CES Asia 2017)

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Pioneer is aiming to deploy flexible OLED panels - and the company hopes it will have products ready for commercialization by 2020. Pioneer has already demonstrated flexible OLED based prototypes, and is in talks with OLED makers regarding the adoption of its panels in future cars.

Korea to establish an OLED light therapy R&D center

Aug 14, 2017

Korea's Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the country's Engineering Research Center (ERC) are joingly setup a new OLED light therapy engineering center.

KAIST-ERC OLED light therapy engineering center image

The new R&D center will initially target skin wound treatment and sleep disorder treatment, using flexible OLEDs to replace current LED-based solutions. In the longer range, the center will also look into dementia prevention and treatment, mild cognitive impairment solutions and other diseases.

Kyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emittersKyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emitters