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

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.

Fluxim releases a new version of its large-area OLED simulation software, OLED-Info readers get a 20% discount

Jul 29, 2017

Leading simulation and measurement tool provider Fluxim recently released a new version of its large-area OLED simulation software LAOSS. The new version adds a simulation capability for temperature estimation and cross-coupling the temperature generated by the device operation itself (in the organic stack and the electrodes) and the changes in device operation due to this increased temperature (leading again to different heat generation and so on).

Fluxim Laoss 2.0 slide

LAOSS is a software tool that simulates large area semiconductor devices (OLED and PV), taking into account the voltage drop in the electrodes due to important resistive effects when the size of the device increases. LAOSS facilitates electrode layout optimization and material choice, which can save substantial time and resources. Both OLED lighting panel design and study of AMOLED pixel cross-talk is just a click away.

OLED Handbook

The EU PI-SCALE project launches a flexible OLED lighting design competition

Jul 26, 2017

In March 2016 the EU launched the PI-SCALE with an aim to create a European-wide pilot line which will enable companies of all sizes to quickly and cost effectively test and scale up their flexible OLED lighting concepts and turn them into market ready products. PI-SCALE members recently managed to produce 10-meter long OLED lighting panels.

PI-SCALE OLED design competition strip (July 2017)

The PI-SCALE project now launched a flexible OLED design competition, calling out designers to propose OLED lighting and signage applications that highlight the special features of OLED technology: foldable, twistable, bendable, conformable, transparency, large area illumination.

EU's PI-SCALE project can now produce 10 meter long OLED Lighting panels

Jul 24, 2017

In March 2016 the EU launched a new project, called, PI-SCALE, that aims to create a European-wide pilot line which will enable companies of all sizes to quickly and cost effectively test and scale up their flexible OLED lighting concepts and turn them into market ready products.

PI-SCALE members started to produce sample panels - and can currently make long films up to 10 meters in size. You can see such sheets (cut to 1.8 meters) in the video above, taken at SID DisplayWeek.

The US DoE awards five new OLED project grants

Jul 24, 2017

The US Department of Energy announced 11 new solid state lighting projects grants, out of which five are related to OLED technologies (the rest are for new LED technologies).

OLED Devices Ascend OLED desk lamp photo

We already posted on two of these grants which were awarded to Pixelligent. In addition to Pixelligent, OLEDWorks were also awarded with two SBIR Phase 1 projects, one for an ultrathin, curved, high-efficiency OLED light engine that will reduce the cost OLED lighting and the second for the development of a novel substrate and encapsulation process.

National Tsing-Hua University demonstrate its latest candlelight blue light free OLEDs

Jul 24, 2017

In 2015, Taiwan's PMOLED maker WiseChip Semiconductors licensed National Tsing-Hua University's blue-light free OLED lighting technology (called Candlelight OLEDs), with an aim to mass produce these OLEDs by the end of 2017.

National Tsing-Hua University demonstrated the latest panel at SID DisplayWeek a few weeks ago, as can be seen in the video above.

BMW's latest concept car uses OLED taillights

Jul 24, 2017

BMW has been developing OLED automotive lighting for many years, and in 2015 BMW has announced now that they are starting to produce the M4 GTS, with its OSRAM-made OLED taillights in very limited quantities.

BMW concept 8 series (2017, rear OLED)

BMW is yet to release a serial car with OLED lighting. The company's latest concept car, the Concept 8 Series, does use OLED taillights as can be seen in the photo above, though. The new car has lot's of new design ideas - and BMW aims to include about 80% of these when the car enters the production stage.

The new Audi A8 sports OLED rearlights

Jul 22, 2017

Audi unveiled its flagship luxuries sedan, the new Audi A8 - which will go on sale towards the end of 2017 in Germany. This car includes several new technologies - including the first Level 3 assisted driving (which can drive completely autonomously in slow traffic jams).

Audi A8 OLED Rearlights photo

The new A8's front lighting uses HD Matrix LED headlamps with Audi laser lighting, and the rear lights use OLED lighting. It's not clear whether the OLED lighting is optional as was the case with Audi's first OLED car, the 2016 TT RS. The new A8 also includes an OLED display for passengers in the back that can be used to control the car's infotainment systems.

Lumlight launches a crowdfunding campaign for its first OLED lighting lamp

Jul 15, 2017

Taiwan's organic chemicals maker Luminescence Technology (Lumtec) launched a new company called Lumlight to develop and produce OLED Lighting based products.

Lumlight kickstarter banner

The company's first product is the OLED EyeCare Lamp, which uses an OLED panel to provide a healthy light source. Lumlight launched a crowdfunding campaign with an aim to raise $120,000 HKD (about $15,000 USD).

Pixelligent receives $2.15 million in new grants from the DoE and DoD

Jul 14, 2017

Pixelligent logoUS-based high-index material maker Pixelligent Technologies announced that it has been awarded several grants from the US Department of Energy SBIR and Department of Defense STTR programs.

The total value of these grants is $2.15 million, and Pixelligent says the grants will be used to accelerate and further develop a diverse range of applications leveraging Pixelligent's core PixClear nanocomposite technology. The DoD STTR Phase II grant will support Pixelligent's continued collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and Argonne National Laboratory to further the development of PixClear. The grants from the DoE will help to "extend the company's technology leadership in OLED lighting applications".

The 2nd International TADF workshop, July 2017, Kyushu, JapanThe 2nd International TADF workshop, July 2017, Kyushu, Japan