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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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OLED is a disruptive lighting technology as it brings a different and unique value proposition to the existing lighting market. In addition, full integration of light source and luminaire is possible. And from a technology viewpoint, an OLED light source is closer to being a finished lighting product than other light sources and thus creates entry points for new players in the lighting market. However, significant market challenges exist. OLED lighting is an area lighting technology that is not applicable to every lighting situation. It is effective at a system level; therefore, comparing an OLED to an LED directly makes no sense. Market education and responding to the resulting feedback will play an important part in activities in the OLED-lighting industry.

The lighting industry is highly standardized and has existing product-labeling and building codes. The relationships and specification processes involved in lighting the built environment are highly complex. OLED lighting can be integrated into non-lighting products, such as flat glass or metal sheeting that are commonly used construction materials. Those products need to be developed, and the interaction between lighting and lighting surfaces needs to be defined.

Criticism is already being directed at OLED lighting technology. Some of it is typical criticism that applies to any new technology, such as claims that it is too expensive. However, much of it is borne of the experience with LED—there are no standards, for example. Further criticism, along the lines that lumen output is too low, questions the promotion of OLED as a general lighting technology.

OLED performance can de defined and measured according to the existing rules of lighting: lifetime, efficacy, power, and lumen output. However, OLEDs have new characteristics that are outside existing parameter boundaries—active area, homogeneity, off-state finish, and brightness—and should be part of any discussion between the OLED producer and luminaire designer.

Lighting designers may have to adhere to hard technical and economic specifications, such as efficiency and cost of the hardware, although of growing importance are soft application factors that determine the total effectiveness or value of the lighting system to the users in the given environment.


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