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).
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
The latest OLED lighting news:
TADF developer CYNORA has announced that it has extended its joint-development agreement with LG Display. The two companies have been co-developing deep-blue TADF OLED emitters for two years, and have now decided to continue the cooperation towards the commercialization of TADF emitters in OLED displays.
CYNORA's latest deep-blue material specification was presented in May 2018 - with a CIEy of 0.14, EQE of 20% and a lifetime of 20 hours LT97 at 700 nits. Cynora expects to have blue material in mass production by 2020. Cynora says that its TADF materials are suitable for both self-emitting or co-emitting approaches (which includes hyper-fluorescence).
Korea's Yonsei University deployed OLED lighting installations, one in its 24-hour study room (Laptop area) and the other in its Hall of Fame. The University says that the new OLED lighting systems provide better eye-comfort and upgrade the study atmosphere.
The Laptop Area uses rectangular OLED panels, both in the ceiling chandeliers and on the desks themselves. The Hall of Fame uses LGD's 300x300 mm flexible OLED panels.
The EU-funded Flexolighting project believes that OLED lighting cost can be reduced to 1 Euro per 100 lumens
In 2015, the EU launched the €4.4 million Flexolighting project (led by Brunel University London) with an aim to develop new materials, processes and methods to overcome current OLED lighting challenges - including lifetime, lighting uniformity and more.
The project's consortium announced that following the project completion and a rethinking of the complete OLED supply chain, it believes that high efficiency OLED lighting panels can be produced at a cost that is on a similar level with LED lighting.
The Fraunhofer FEP developed a wearable OLED lighting button, is ready to help commercialize the technology
Researchers at the Fraunhofer FEP institute developed a new wearable OLED-based "button" that can be integrated into textiles. The OLEDs can be designed in any shape, be transparent, dimmable and also patterned. There is also a two-color variant.
The Fraunhofer developers say that such elements can be used for fashion trends, branding, safety applications, light therapy and more. The so-called O-Button is based on an OLED deposited on a wafer-thin foil combined with a micro-controller on a conventional circuit board.
US-based supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets partnered with OLEDWorks to bring OLED lighting installations to select Wegmans stores and work sites. Wegmans says it wants to test better-quality lighting solutions for its customers and employees.
The Wegmans stores will use Acuity Brands' Peerless OLE4 Olessence suspended luminaries that combine direct-view OLEDs with LEDs. The first initial tests will take place at Wegmans' Pittsford and Henrietta stores and the company's Rochester headquarters (at employee meeting and dining areas). The HQ installations will use Acuity Brands' Trilia installations and the Petal and Limit from Milwaukee-based Visa Lighting.
Last week Bugatti announced it is set to unveil its new Divo "hypercar" - which will feature OLED tail lights. Bugatti indeed unveiled its latest car, and you can see the OLED lights below:
Unfortunately, Bugatti did not disclose any details regarding these OLED taillights, hopefully we'll know more soon about these beautiful modules.
Bugatti is going to unveil its Divo hypercar later this week, and the French car maker has released some initial details of its new car - including the fact that it will feature OLED tail-lights.
Bugatti will only make 40 such cars - and the price will start at $7.9 million...
The UK innovation agency (Innovate UK) has launched a new 30-month project called UltraWELD, which aims to improve airtight bonding in OLED lighting for aerospace and defense applications. The project partners will develop photonic-based processes for highly dissimilar material joining.
Current dissimilar materials joining is mainly done using adhesive bonding - a highly flexible and low cost process, but one that cannot provide truly hermetic bonds, which reduces the performance of the panels and can lead to optical damage.
Researchers from Penn State University have demonstrated 3D OLED lighting devices, inspired by the Japanese Kirigami art of paper cutting the folding.
The researchers started with flexible OLED lighting devices produced on thin plastics, which they then cut and folded to create lighting-emitting 3D structures.
In 2016 the EU launched the PI-SCALE project, which established a European-wide roll-to-roll flexible OLED lighting pilot production line, with an aim to enable companies of all sizes to quickly and cost effectively test and scale up their flexible OLED lighting concepts.
Now the EU has launched a €14 million initiative within PI-SCALE called LYTEUS, which provides the expertise and capability required to progress an OLED lighting concept from an idea and into a commercialized product. Lyteus helps companies with sheet-to-sheet and roll-to-roll prototyping of flexible OLEDs, technology transfer, device encapsulation and more. At launch Lyteus serves four customers: Audi, Rehau, Emde and Pilkington, to develop flexible OLED lighting products in the automotive, aeronautics and designer luminaires sectors.