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OLED Lighting: Ready for Takeoff

(November 2010) posted on Tue Oct 19, 2010

The increasing viability of OLED as a source of light has led to an increasing number of commercial companies expressing confidence in this new solid-state lighting technology.


By Novaled AG

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The increasing viability of OLED as a source of light has led to an increasing number of commercial companies expressing confidence in this new solid-state lighting technology. Whereas in the flat-panel-display market, OLED technology is seen as an evolutionary replacement for LCD technology, the unique technical features of OLEDs as they relate to lighting applications are expected to result in a fundamental change.

OLEDs are thin-area light sources that emit uniform, diffuse light. White OLEDs display very high color-rendering properties, which results in a pleasing and comfortable light. Furthermore, they are fully dimmable, can be switched on and off without any time delay, and already exhibit impressive energy efficiencies and operating lifetimes. There is currently no other lighting technology that can deliver a mirror-like appearance or full transparency in the off-state.

Evidence that commercial interest in this sector is increasing comes via new product-level announcements from companies engaged in OLED lighting technology and a surprisingly strong presence of lighting products and concepts at recent design and lighting exhibitions. At present, the OLED-lighting industry is comparatively young and technology driven. In contrast, the lighting industry as a whole may be seen as experienced in delivering end-user solutions.

The successful conversion of market interest into commercial products requires a high level of financial investment in the OLED-lighting industry. This, in turn, requires confidence in the growth potential of the market for its lighting products and services. In the scheme of any self-fulfilling prophecy, connecting those two self-serving ends is the means to success. Against this background there is a need to move the discussion beyond technology and onto the application level. There is also a need to reset short-term expectations, which appear to be infected with visions of fully flexible and extremely cheap lighting. This should be achieved by demonstrating that OLED lighting is already a viable, exciting, and unrivalled lighting technology.

Design
OLED technology enables lighting to be directly embedded in architectural materials, such as metal and glass. OLEDs do not require light distribution optics—OLED lighting is pure lighting. Conventional lighting schemes use linear and point sources, occupy more space, do not produce uniform illumination, and need to be combined with optical light-management fixtures. OLED lighting offers designers a new lighting design platform that enables the total integration of lighting and architectural materials—something that is not possible today.


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