OLEDs: Osram, EU flexible-OLED project, NanoMarkets, OSA

Nov. 16, 2011
Osram has announced a record-breaking flexible OLED, while a EU-funded group headed up by Imec will also pursue flexible OLEDs with built-in intelligence. NanoMarkets has published an OLED materials market report and the OSA has published a volume of OLED research papers.
Osram achieves record efficiency using for OLEDs

Researchers from Osram have developed a flexible OLED technology which reached an efficiency of 32 lm/W – a record value according to the company.

Osram's flexible OLEDs The OLED design uses a top-emitter approach, where light is emitted out the top of the device rather than through the substrate as in traditional rigid OLEDs. The highly-reflective substrate is a thin steel foil (~100 µm). Top-emitter designs have traditionally been a more challenging approach to producing high-quality white light.

To ensure product consistency and scalability, the OLED approach was tested on a large-surface OLED sample using a fixed brightness setting of 1000 cd/m2. The measurements were made in an integrating sphere – without using any manipulating macroextractors such as lens assemblies to help increase the light yield.

Osram’s head of technology, Thomas Dobbertin, stated that “with this sample, we are able to demonstrate that flexible OLED can already be significantly more efficient than halogen lamps. This was only made possible thanks to our ability to transfer our strong competence in the field of vacuum processing of organic functional materials and space-saving thin-film encapsulation onto flexible OLED.”

In related news, Osram was the OLED provider behind a very large, interactive OLED installation at the Qubique design fair at the Tempelhof airport in Berlin. The 6-meter-high cubic structure (12 x 12 m total) contains numerous 2-mm thick OLED panels arranged in a three-dimensional interactive display. The display uses sound and motion sensors to respond to a viewer’s approach. The installation was designed by Simon Brünner and contains 1362 OLED light modules.

Osram also recently opened its first OLED pilot production line in Regensburg, where it expects to reduce production OLED manufacturing cost by 90%.

EU project IMOLA starts R&D on intelligent OLED lighting

Leuven, Belgium-based research institute Imec and its project partners are also pursuing flexible OLED structures by launching the Intelligent light Management for OLED on foil Applications (IMOLA) project as part of the EU’s 7th framework program for ICT (FP7). The project’s goal is to make large-area, OLED-based lighting modules with built-in intelligent light management.

Transparent OLED on foil Such flexible lighting systems target high-value-added applications including energy-efficient wall, ceiling and car dome lighting, where the light intensity can be adjusted intelligently, i.e. according to the time of the day or weather conditions.

The IMOLA project is designed to address the R&D challenges that currently keep large-area flexible OLED lighting from commercialization. Focus areas will include driver electronics, power distribution, integration and miniaturization, as well as sensor development and intelligence application. One IMOLA project goal is to help to create a common OLED infrastructure on a European scale.

The IMOLA consortium includes several industrial and academic partners. In addition to Imec, the project coordinator, the partners include TNO/Holst Centre (Netherlands), Philips Technologie (Germany), NXP Semiconductors (Netherlands, Belgium), Hanita Coatings RCA (Israel), Henkel Electronic Materials (Belgium), Centro Ricerche Plast-optica (Italy), and the FER department of the University of Zagreb (Croatia).

NanoMarkets report forecasts substantial growth in OLED materials

Analysts for NanoMarkets have projected that 2014 will be the year that OLED lighting begins to generate significant revenues for suppliers of OLED lighting materials. NanoMarkets, a market research firm based in Glen Allen, VA, has announced the release of its latest market report entitled, “OLED lighting materials markets: 2012.” In 2015, the analysts expect the total market for OLED lighting materials to reach $1 billion.

The report contains volume and revenue forecasts for materials used for OLED lighting, broken out by material type and functionality in the OLED stack, as well as by OLED fabrication method – solution processing vs. vapor deposition, and small molecules vs. polymeric materials. NanoMarkets estimates that revenues from emissive layer materials are expected to top $375 million by 2015, and over 90% of this will come from sales of vapor-deposited small-molecule materials.

The report also looks at the strategies of OLED lighting manufacturers including Philips, Osram, Lumiotec, and Visionox.

OSA publishes issue focusing on OLED research

The Optical Society (OSA) has published a "Focus issue on OLEDs" in Energy Express, a bi-monthly supplement to its journal Optics Express. The aim of the collection of papers, accessible online at www.opticsinfobase.org/ee, is to highlight recent breakthroughs in OLED technology.

“The latest advances reflected in this focus issue are truly exceptional and will prove to be invaluable to advancements in lighting and display technology,” said Norbert Koch of the Institute of Physics, Humbolt University in Germany, and one of the organizers of the issue.

The supplement highlights reasons why top-emitting OLEDs are beneficial for lighting and display applications, methods for improving the outcoupling efficiency in OLEDs and how to optimize the optical path in the devices. The full press release is available here.