Back in April we posted about light-emitting electrochemical cells (LEC), a cheaper (but less efficient) flexible alternative to OLED lighting. Today we learned that OSRAM are also actively researching organic LECs (OLECs), and indeed they view them as a mid-term technology (until OLED catches on) for low-cost wide-area luminaires.
OSRAM already produced large (15x14 cm) LEC prototypes on an R&D setup at Augsburg. A conductive polymer layer is initially applied to the supporting plastic foil that was previously provided with a conductive, transparent layer. Following an infrared drying process the light-emitting layer is applied via the same procedure. Electrons from standard metals can then be vapour-deposited. Unlike LEDs and OLEDs the OLEC production process does not need any clean rooms.
These OLEC panels were developed as part of the European CELLO research project that also includes Siemens and five research institutes. The project aims to achieve OLECs with 17 lm/W efficiency. Further work will be required to increase the efficiency and extend the lifetime of OLECs.