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:
DSCC analysts say that OLED stack materials will grow from $1.04 billion in 2018 to over $2 billion in 2022 - a CAGR of 17%.
DSCC says that up until now it greatly underestimated Novaled's revenues, and it now says that Novaled generated revenues of $97 million in 2017 and $122 million in 2018. Novaled is the third largest OLED material company by revenue - following Universal Display and Merck. The three companies combined will hold a market share of 56% in 2023.
Taiwan's National Tsing-Hua University (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. In 2015, NTHU started to develop its low blue-light candle-light orange-type OLED technology, initially in collaboration with Wisechip and later with China-based OLED lighting producer First-o-lite.
NTHU has been promoting these candle-light OLEDs for the Smangus tribe in Taiwan's Jianshi Township which has been avoiding artificial light pollution. NTHU and the tribe managed to raise money to produce 240 OLED lamps, 90 for street lights and the rest to light up more than 100 cabins in the tribe's village. This is a beautiful project and hopefully will bring more attention to the hazards of blue light and the advantages of OLED lighting technologies.
Taiwan-based Luminescence Technology (Lumtec) is set to debut today on the Taipei stock exchange emerging stock board. The company says that it plans to expand its OLED lighting production capacity in Q4 2019 from 150,000 50x35 mm panels per month to around 600,000 units.
Lumtec says that it sees a large demand coming from the automotive market for OLED lighting panels, and it expects its utilization rates to reach 100% in the current quarter. This means that the company sees around 450,000 panels shipping in this quarter, which seems highly optimistic, especially as it says that it has currently shipping samples for five companies with volume orders expected in 2020 and the demand from automotive companies is not likely to expand very quickly as first adoption comes from luxury cars.
The following is a sponsored post by Lumtec
OLED lighting developer Luminescence Technology Corp. (Lumtec) will unveil new OLED lighting applications at the China International Automotive Interiors and Exteriors Exhibition. Lumtec mass produces OLED lighting panels that utilize the company's own self-developer materials, technologies and equipment. The company says that the price point of OLED lighting panels has come down enough to be adopted in mass scale projects.
Lumtec sees possible OLED lighting markets in luxury and middle-class automotive, automotive after-markets, retail, hotels, smart home fixtures and general lighting products such as desk lamps and stand light. The company is also open to new applications and designs and wants to continue and develop innovating solutions together with partners.
The DoE grants $1.1 million to Penn State researchers and OLEDWorks to research low refractive index organic materials
The US Department of Energy (DoE) has granted $1.1 million to Penn State University professors Chris Giebink and Michael Hickner for a new project to increase the efficiency of OLED lighting panels.
The researchers, collaborating with OLEDWorks in this project (and previous ones as well), aim to find a way to lower the refractive index of the organic materials which will increase the external efficiency of OLED devices. The basic idea is to insert other molecules and blend them with the existing OLED materials which lower the refractive index without adversely affecting the properties of the original molecules.
In March 2017 Konica Minolta and Pioneer announced that the two companies are set to merge their OLED business unit, and on June 2017 the new 50:50 joint venture, called Konica Minolta Pioneer OLED, was officially established.
Pioneer was recently acquired by Hong Kong private equity firm Bearing Private Equity for $904 million, and the company is now trying to focus its business, and we learned that it has decided to quite the OLED lighting market. KMPO has been closed and all assets and employees were moved to Konica Minolta. This is quite sad news regarding Pioneer who's been active with OLED lighting for many years (see below).
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.