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:

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.

Nippon Shokubai demonstrate its latest OLED lighting panels

Japan-based Nippon Shokubai announced that its OLED lighting panels will be used in an upcoming textile exhibition in Japan. The company's fiber-type OLED lighting panels will be woven into a fabric, as can be seen in the video below:

Nippon Shokubai is developing OLED lighting panels under the iOLED brand. Its panels are very flexible and are only 0.07 mm thick. The company developed two panel types: a red panel which features a brightness of 5,000 cd/m2, EQE of 29% and >10,000 LT50 (@ 1,000 cd/m2) and a green panel that features a brightness of 7,000 cd/m2, EQE of 23% and >10,000 LT50 (@ 1,000 cd/m2) .

Audi's latest EV concept, the A6 E-tron, uses OLED taillights

Audi unveiled a new concept electric car, the A6 E-tron. This is a preview of Audi's EVs based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture that Audi is co-developing with Porsche. These cars will start production in 2023.

Audi A6 E-tron concept (2021)

The new A6 E-tron has many interesting new technologies - and it also features OLED lighting panels in the tail lights. These lighting modules use 3D OLED clusters that can create "almost unlimited customisable variations of digital light signatures and dynamic lighting displays".

The Fraunhofer FEP shows its latest OLED technologies, creates a new virtual tour of its facilities

The Fraunhofer FEP Institute published this nice video that shows its latest technology innovations, including its OLED (regular and bi-directional) microdisplays, its new AR/VR optics, flexible OLED lighting panels, its Monarch flexible and transparent OLED panels, sensor and coating technologies and more.

The Fraunhofer FEP also created and published a new virtual tour of its facilities, where you can have a look inside the labs and flexible organic electronics R&D clearnroom.

Look Labs launches the world's first perfume bottle with OLED lighting

Design house Look Labs announced the world's first perfume bottle with embedded OLED lighting. The Cyber EDP is a unisex fragrance, produced in France.

The perfume bottle included an embedded touch sensor and battery (both produced by a printing process). The OLED is red in color, and Look Labs says the battery will be enough for around 500 cycles.