An OLED Day is Dawning

Organic light emitting diodes (OLED) are a next step in the evolution of solid state lighting technology, complementing inorganic LEDs. This week, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research awarded an important research grant to Applied Materials, Merck KGaA and the Technical University of Braunschweig (TU-BS). The Light InLine (LILi) project will enable Applied to join forces with Merck, a leading manufacturer of high performance OLED materials, and TU-BS, an internationally recognized center for OLED research, to drive down the cost of OLEDs using large-area manufacturing processes, high-performance organic materials and efficient device design.

The unique properties of OLEDs have the potential to redefine the lighting industry and the way light is used. OLEDs are manufactured on a flat surface, emit low heat, and create an aesthetically pleasing, diffuse light — allowing designers, architects and others tremendous flexibility in using them for buildings, products and even furniture.

Already, lighting manufacturers are demonstrating brilliant concepts using OLED lighting. Philips Lighting was one of the first to make OLED lighting tiles commercially available, with its Lumiblades product line. Other major lighting companies such as OSRAM OS, Panasonic Electric Works and Konica Minolta, have shown similar exciting concepts at international venues. Light tiles can be adapted to almost any surface, and integrated into products in new ways to emit light from the inside out.

At the 2008 FINETECH Show in Tokyo, the largest exhibition and conference for display and lighting manufacturing technologies, and in subsequent gatherings such as the recent 2009 OLED World Summit in San Francisco, Applied Materials has presented its large area OLED tool concept.

Solid state lighting is an important component of an energy-efficient future and OLED technology aligns well with Applied’s equipment used for manufacturing flat panel displays. Through the LILi project, we expect to further optimize this technology to increase the quality and drive down the cost for OLED lighting applications.

The OLED industry is beginning to come into its own and with it a new generation of high-efficiency lighting solutions will become commercially available.

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