LILi project aims for lower cost of OLED manufacturing

Applied Materials, Merck KGaA, and Braunschweig University have been awarded funding for OLED research by the German government.

Merck KGaA, Applied Materials, Inc. and Braunschweig University of Technology (TU-BS) have been awarded a grant by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop processes to lower the cost of manufacturing OLED lighting.

Work on the three-year Light InLine (LILi) project will be centered at the advanced development facility of Applied Materials in Alzenau, Germany.

Applied Materials, a manufacturing equipment supplier, will join forces with Merck, a leading manufacturer of high-performance OLED materials and TU-BS, an internationally recognized center for OLED research.

Fabricated on sheets of glass, OLED tiles can emit white light that is brighter, more uniform and more energy-efficient than fluorescent light fixtures, making them well-suited for ceiling lights in homes and offices. Obstacles to be overcome before this technology can be widely adopted include limited lifetime, lack of standardization and high costs.

The LILi project aims to address these challenges by developing large-area manufacturing processes using high-performance organic materials and efficient device design.

The total costs of the OLED project will amount to around EUR 7.49 million. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research will provide funding of around EUR 3.26 million; the industry partners will contribute around EUR 4.23 million. The grant (FKZ 13N10611) is part of the BMBF’s “OLED 2 – Organic Light-emitting Diodes - Phase 2” initiative, which seeks to support OLED collaborative research and encourage OLED manufacturing in Germany.

“Merck has a wealth of experience in developing and scaling up the complex organic compounds that are essential for stable and cost-effective OLED manufacturing,” said Udo Heider, Vice President Liquid Crystals/ OLED, Merck KGaA. “The LILi project is a great opportunity for us to test new organic materials in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment in order to validate their stability and performance on large-area substrates.”

“Solid-state lighting is an important component of an energy-efficient future,” said Mark Pinto, Senior Vice President, Corporate Chief Technology Officer and General Manager of Applied Materials’ Energy and Environmental Solutions Organization. “OLED technology aligns well with our equipment used for manufacturing flat panel displays. We’ve already configured a system that is now in pilot manufacturing at a leading European lighting manufacturer. Through the LILi project we expect to further optimize this technology to raise the quality and drive down the cost for OLED lighting applications.”

“Innovation in OLED technology is one of the primary focuses of our institute,” said Professor Wolfgang Kowalsky from TU-BS. “We’re pleased to partner with Merck and Applied Materials to evaluate how our new high-efficiency OLED lighting device structures will perform in an industrial-scale environment.”

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