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.
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).
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.
The latest OLED lighting news:
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.