PMOLED (Passive Matrix OLED): introduction and basics

Submitted by Ron Mertens on Sun, 02/10/2019 - 15:30

OLED displays use organic materials that emit light when electricity is applied. OLEDs enable emissive, bright, thin, flexible and efficient displays. OLEDs are set to replace LCDs in all display applications - from small displays to large TV sets.

PMOLED: Passive Matrix OLED

PMOLED stands for Passive-Matrix OLED, which relates to the way you control (or drive) the display. A PMOLED display uses a simple control scheme in which you control each row (or line) in the display sequentially (one at a time). PMOLED electronics do not contain a storage capacitor and so the pixels in each line are actually off most of the time. To compensate for this you need to use more voltage to make them brighter. If you have 10 lines, for example, you have to make the one line that is on 10 times as bright (the real number is less then 10, but that's the general idea).

A PMOLED panel by Univision

So while PMOLEDs are easy (and cheap) to fabricate, they are not efficient and the OLED materials suffer from lower lifetime (due to the high voltage needed). PMOLED displays are also restricted in resolution and size (the more lines you have, the more voltage you have to use). PMOLED displays are usually small (up to 3" typically) and are used to display character data or small icons: they are being used in wearable devices, small gadgets and sub displays

A PMOLED MP3 player

PMOLED vs AMOLED

The other kind of OLED display is called an AMOLED (or Active-Matrix OLED). An AMOLED uses a TFT that contains a storage capacitor which maintains the line pixels lit all the time (even though just one line is changed each time). AMOLEDs consume less power than PMOLEDs, have faster refresh rates and allows to build larger display with higher resolutions. AMOLEDs are also more complicated and expensive to fabricate.



AMOLEDs today are being used as displays for smartphones, digital cameras - and even OLED TVs.

Flexible and transparent PMOLEDs

Some small and simple flexible (conformable) PMOLED displays are already on the market. Japan's Futaba for example is producing several such displays, including a 1.4" 128x16 film PMOLED display adopted in several fitness bands from Garmin, HTC and others.

Transparent PMOLEDs are currently in development, with some segmented panels already on the market - but as of early 2018, no dot-matrix transparent PMOLEDs are available.

Looking for PMOLED suppliers?

Are you looking to adopt an PMOLED display for your device? Today there are several PMOLED producers (mostly in China and Taiwan), each making their own kinds of standard and custom PMOLED displays, with a total of dozens of different displays on the market.

The OLED Marketplace is our very own comprehensive OLED catalog, in which you can find most of the PMOLED displays on the market. Click here to browse our extensive catalog.

The PMOLED Market Report

If you want to fully understand the PMOLED market and industry, check out our PMOLED Market Report. This comprehensive report explains:

  • PMOLED production fabs
  • Next-generation PMOLED technologies
  • Flexible and transparent PMOLEDs
  • PMOLED for automotive applications

The report package also provides datasheets and product catalogs and a detailed list of PMOLED producers.

Further reading

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The latest PMOLED news:

Futaba expands its strategic relationship with RiTDisplay for the production of PMOLED displays

Japan-based PMOLED maker Futaba announced that it is entering a business partnership agreement with Taiwan-based PMOLED maker RiTDisplay for the production of OLED displays.

Futaba flexible 1.8'' 160x32 PMOLED photo

Futaba is already collaborating with RiTDisplay for parts of the PMOLED production process, but now it will expand this project and move the entire PMOLED production process to RiT Display. The two companies will also partner to share technical details and co-develop and sale automotive PMOLED displays.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 24,2022

Calling out for comments: The Display Tracker service

Following the next-generation display industry and market for almost 20 years has taught us about the many challenges standing before companies that aim to adopt unique display solutions in their products.

Display Tracker Service image

Following discussions with display professionals, we feel there is a need for a service that assists companies with finding the right displays for them.

Read the full story Posted: Apr 24,2022

OLED-Info's OLED Market Reports updated to January 2022

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the transparent, PMOLED, microdisplays and automotive OLED markets. OLED-Info provides comprehensive niche OLED market reports, and our reports cover everything you need to know about the niche market, and can be useful if you want to understand how the OLED industry works and what this technology can provide for your own industry. The reports are now updated to January 2022.

The OLED and MicroLED Microdisplays Market Report:

  • The advantages of OLED and MicroLED microdisplays
  • Information on all companies involved in this market
  • What kind of displays are available on the market today
  • Future technologies and roadmaps

The report package also provides a complete list of OLED and microLED microdisplays makers and their current (and future) products, and personal contact details into the leading microdisplays makers. Read more here!

Read the full story Posted: Jan 19,2022

Looking to buy OLED displays for your project? We can help!

OLED displays are rapidly gaining in popularity, and are already taking over various market segments like wearables and smartphones. However, for smaller scale projects it is often challenging to find the best OLED to suit the project's needs.

The OLED Marketplace frontpage, with ePaper displays

OLED producers usually only sell directly to very high volume customers, relying instead on distributors and suppliers for the rest of the market. This creates a fragmented market and makes it difficult to source the right display for your next device.

Luckily, our OLED Marketplace offers device developers a wide range of OLED displays, from wearable panels, through PMOLEDs and microdisplays to high-end flexible and foldable AMOLEDs. We believe this is the world's most comprehensive OLED catalog, which makes it easier to locate the perfect next-generation display.

Read the full story Posted: Nov 17,2021

Metalgrass offers a discounted yearly market reports package

Metalgrass (OLED-Info) is now offering a new subscription service for enterprises that want access to our complete collection of market reports.

Metalgrass market reports package subscription - photo

For $3,500 per year, you will get an Enterprise License to all of our market reports. Metalgrass currently offers 12 market reports, plus 4 handbook guides, and all of these are included in the subscription (bought separately, these will cost over $10,000!). You will also have access to all new reports, updates and guides released in the future (during the yearly subscription period).

Our Enterprise License gives access to your entire organization: you can share the report with all the company employees via mail, shared server or any other digital way.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 21,2021

RiTDisplay and SmartKem join forces to develop OTFT-AMOLED displays

UK-based OTFT display backplane developer SmartKem announced that it has signed a joint development agreement with Taiwan-based PMOLED-maker RiTdisplay, for the production of OTFT-based AMOLED display prototypes.

Smartkem TruFlex structure image

SmartKem's technology could enable RiTDisplay to produce AMOLED displays at a lower cost, and, more significantly, to use its own PMOLED production line without the large investment needed for an LTPS AMOLED Line. The current agreement includes a prototype display development, it will have to be seen whether it will be expanded in the future for actual production.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 13,2021

The worldwide component shortage is affecting the OLED industry

In recent months, the world is suffering from a serious semiconductor component shortage, due to several reasons that all seemed to have join forces - increased demand for IT products due to the pandemic, extreme weather conditions in the US and Asia, the US-China trade war, employee shortages, and the power grid problems that China is facing.

Olum Material unit cell FMM photo

This semiconductor supply and demand crisis is affecting the global OLED industry. Some display makers cannot ship their displays - not because of OLED production problems, but because they cannot get enough driver ICs.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 07,2021

OLED-Info's OLED Market Reports updated to October 2021

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the transparent, PMOLED, microdisplays and automotive OLED markets. OLED-Info provides comprehensive niche OLED market reports, and our reports cover everything you need to know about the niche market, and can be useful if you want to understand how the OLED industry works and what this technology can provide for your own industry. The reports are now updated to October 2021.

The OLED and MicroLED Microdisplays Market Report:

  • The advantages of OLED and MicroLED microdisplays
  • Information on all companies involved in this market
  • What kind of displays are available on the market today
  • Future technologies and roadmaps

The report package also provides a complete list of OLED and microLED microdisplays makers and their current (and future) products, and personal contact details into the leading microdisplays makers. Read more here!

Read the full story Posted: Oct 04,2021

OLED developments at the IIT's FlexE Center

The National Center for Flexible Electronics (FlexE) was established in 2014 as a Centre of Excellence at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur. The vision of the center is to "catalyse the development of domestic industry in the field of large area flexible electronics".

OLED lighting prototypes, FlexE Center

The FlexE center has some interesting OLED projects, and we recently had a discussion with researchers from the center to learn more about the OLED R&D activities.

Read the full story Posted: Aug 06,2021

OLED-Info overhauls its Automotive OLED Market Report

In early July, we published our quarterly update for our Automotive OLED Market Report. The update this time was comprehensive, as we overhauled the complete report.

The OLED Automotive market is heating up. AMOLED displays (mostly flexible ones) are finally being adopted by commercial cars, while OLED lighting panels continue to be designed into high-end automotive taillights as the ultimate lighting solution.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 12,2021