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.
- An introduction to OLEDs
- OLED Technology explained
- Transparent OLEDs
- Flexible OLEDs
- The OLED Handbook, our very own comprehensive guide to OLEDs
French Champagne maker Cattier launched illuminated and interactive labels, powered by OLED lighting panels produced by Inuru. The project was handled by bespoke packaging platform Packhelp. The Cattier label lights up as the champagne is being poured from the bottle into a glass, and the illumination can be also enabled on demand, by a simple touch.
Inuru says that the first batch of bottles with the new labels will ship soon on select markets. Inuru produces flexible and water-proof OLED lighting panels using a printing process.
Last week at CES, OLEDWorks demonstrated some of its latest automotive OLED Lighting solutions. Developed together with Corning, Valeo and STMicroelectronics, OLEDWorks’ newest demonstrator contained the highest density of individually addressable segments of any flexible OLED panel.
You can see the new flexible OLED demonstrator in the video above on the left (the device on the right uses rigid OLED panels). OLEDWorks says that individually segmented OLED lighting panels increase safety on the road by allowing for improved communication through dynamic animation sequences and symbols. Manufacturing these OLED panels on flexible glass further expands lighting design opportunities with the ability to conform with curved surfaces in the car, integrating lighting directly into the vehicle’s architecture.
Yeolight showed several new OLED lighting taillights designs at the Automotive Lighting Exhibition in Shanghai. In the video below you can see the various prototypes.
Some of these displays seem very impressive, with a large amount of panels. The full-length taillights have 1,434 OLED panels in different shapes and sizes, and support multiple dynamic effects.
During the 2022 Light+Building tradeshow, OLEDWorks and Audi demonstrated a new OLED automotive rearlight unit:
The unit is Audi's latest rear model demonstrator of the A6 e-tron concept vehicle. The new concept features a significant increase in the number of OLED segments from what is currently on the road from Audi, and it looks like a beautiful concept.
China-based OLED lighting developer Yeolight Technology is starting to build a 4.5-Gen OLED lighting production line, in Huaibei City, Anhui Province, China.
The total investment in this new fab will reach 2 billion Yuan (around $300 million USD). Construction at the site has already began. When ready, the fab will have a yearly capacity of around 7 million OLED panels.
OLEDWorks announced that it is the supplier of the digital OLED rear lights adopted by Audi in its 2022 A8 and S8 cars. These OLEDs are now standard in the new A8.
Customers can choose one of two light signatures on the A8 (the S8 offers three possible signatures). Audi says it will deliver the first cars in Q2 2022.
The OLED lighting market is still in its very early stages as currently commercial shipments mostly consist of premium lamps and installations, and the industry target niche applications - such as commercial lighting, health-related solutions and the automotive industry.
OLEDs offer several unique advantages to the automotive market, and it's also a market with defined premium cars that can be used for early adoption of high cost technology. In the past few years, we've seen several car makers (including Audi, Mercedes and BMW) that started to adopt OLED lighting in car taillights. Initial adoption was for optional modules, but today several car models come with OLED lighting as standard. OLED lighting can be used for several applications within the automotive market.
OLED lighting developer Inuru announced that it is now capable to print OLED panels in any shape, on demand.
Inuru has setup a pilot line in Berlin Adlershof. The company says its new panels offers very small size, as required, and excellent homogeneity. The company can pair it with thin printed batteries to power the lighting panels.
UK-based PolyPhotonix announced that it has raised $10 million from Prevail Partners, which will help the company perform trials for the FDA with hopes to market its Notura eye mask in the US.
PolyPhotonix's Noctura 400 is a sleep mask that uses green OLED lighting panels for a non-invasive treatment for diabetic eye disease (DED). which helps patients with Diabetic Retinopathy. Pioneer supplies the OLED panels for PolyPhotonix.
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.