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 2019.
In the early years, several large lighting makers (including GE, Philips, OSRAM, 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.
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 as Konica Minolta still faces technical challenges and constant reorganization.
The latest OLED lighting news:
OLEDWorks announced a "predevelopment collaboration" with Audi to advance OLED lighting technology in automotive applications. Audi and OLEDWorks will work together to use OLED lighting and implement it in Audi's future vehicles.
Audi has been developing and implementing OLED lighting for many years. Back in 2012 Audi partnered with Philips to demonstrate several OLED lighting prototypes. Philips OLED unit was sold to OLEDWorks in 2015. See more about Audi's 2012 and 2013 OLED prototypes here.
According to Digitimes, PMOLED display maker RiTdisplay has started to produce flexible OLED lighting panels, targeting the automotive, medical and consumer (home) applications.
For the automotive market, the RiTdisplay is apparently collaborating with Luminit, through its Taiwan-subsidiary Luminit Automotive Technology. RiTdisplay is holding 30% at LAT which is already starting to supply OLED lighting panels for automotive brake lights and started low-volume shipments in Q1 2019.
Acuity Brands announced that from now on it will work exclusively with OLEDWorks to expand its OLED luminaires product portfolio, targeting the architectural lighting market.
Acuity Brands has offered OLED lamps and installations for many years, using both OLEDWorks and LG OLEDs. Acuity Brands says that it has worked with OLEDWorks for years, and have found it to be the superior OLED technology in the market".
Taiwan-based Luminescence Technology (Lumtec) announced that it has started to mass produce OLED lighting panels, targeting mainly the automotive OLED lighting market.
Lumtec has been developing OLED materials and technologies for many years, and the company has now accelerated its market strategy for OLED lighting, and vertically integrated the business under its "LUMLIGHT" business division.
NTHU professor Jou has been researching the hazards of blue light for many years, warning us against the hazards of modern lighting and focusing on OLED lighting as the technology that enables low blue-light emission lighting.
ETNews: LG Display to focus on automotive OLED lighting and not quit the OLED lighting market completely
A couple of weeks ago we reported that LG Display has decided to quit the OLED lighting market, as it found it difficult to ramp out production and lower its production costs. It was not clear what's the future of LGD's automotive OLED lighting business, but now we have an update from Korea.
According to ETNews, LG display has indeed found it difficult to win orders for its consumer OLED lighting products, and has decided to "reduce" its Luflex OLED lighting product line. LGD, however, is not quitting the OLED lighting market - but is stepping up its efforts to supply automotive OLED lighting solutions.
Update: ETNews reports that LGD will not quit the lighting market completely, but change its focus to automotive OLED lighting
According to our information (from several sources within the industry), LG Display has decided to quit the OLED lighting market. LG found it difficult to ramp out production in its new OLED lighting fab and from what we understand the future prospects of the business did not seem good enough for the company.
This is very unfortunate news, as LG Display was seen by many as the leading company behind OLED lighting - and the one that could be the "champion" of the technology that will finally enable it to reach mass markets.
On March 9th, LG Display's promotion team kindly invited us to a tour of LG's "Display City" in Paju, Korea. The display complex houses about 20,000 employees, and is highly impressive. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to see it.
The first thing one notices is the new P10 10.5-Gen OLED TV fab building - which is the largest building in Paju. The P10 OLED TV fab is not complete yet, but according to reports LGD will be ready to start installing the equipment soon.
In 2014 we reported that the Tai-Yah (also called Atayal) tribe, the "dark tribe", has started to test National Tsing-Hua University's blue-free OLED lighting panels (produced by WiseChip).
These early candle-light street OLEDs were not suitable for that environment, and NTHU researchers say that mountain dew rapidly shorted the wires. But not NTHU has stepped up its efforts and teamed up with First-o-Lite to produce a new version of its panels. This time the researchers are positive that its new panels will enable the entire village to adopt blue-hazard free lighting,
In early March we conducted a 10 day trip to Seoul, to attend the OLED Korea 2019 conference (and visit some local display companies).
Visiting Seoul is a great chance to witness some beautiful OLED installations - LG Display has been deploying its OLED lighting and display solutions across town in businesses and tourist attractions. Retail stores of course were showing the latest smartphones by Samsung and LG - all of which adopt high end flexible AMOLED displays.