GE Global Research, the technology development arm for the General Electric Company, and Konica Minolta (KM) have announced a breakthrough that brings the companies closer to making high efficiency organic light emitting diode (OLED) lighting devices a reality. GE and KM scientists have demonstrated illumination quality white OLEDs using “solution coatable” materials essential for producing OLEDs at a low cost.
OLEDs are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes that illuminate when an electrical charge is applied. The technology has potential to deliver dramatically improved levels of efficiency and environmental performance, while achieving the same quality of illumination found in traditional products in the marketplace with less electrical power.
Anil Duggal, GE’s OLED lighting technology leader, announced the efficiency milestone this week during a presentation at the International Symposium on the Science and Technology of Light Sources in the Netherlands. “GE and KM have done what many in the OLED research community thought was not possible,” said Duggal. “We have produced high performance white OLED lighting devices with a commercially viable lifetime using ‘solution coating’ rather than ‘vacuum coating’ processes. This allows us to make use of the high volume roll-to-roll manufacturing infrastructure that already has been perfected in the printing industry.”
GE and KM plan to manufacture OLEDs using high speed, roll-to-roll processes rather than the vacuum based batch processes used by companies in the OLED display industry. The companies state that roll-to-roll processing is key to making OLEDs commercially viable for general lighting applications. Solution, or wet coating, is the highest throughput manufacturing method for coating the organic layers that are the essence of an OLED lighting device.
John Strainic, global product general manager for GE Lighting, the business that will commercialize GE OLEDs, added, “This type of coating is ideally suited for roll-to-roll processing and critical to enabling the production of OLEDs at high speeds. In simple terms, this latest achievement means we’re starting to see the OLED light at the end of the tunnel.”
Researchers and product development teams from GE and KM have been working together on OLED technology since 2007. GE’s technology relationship with KM, a global imaging products company, has helped to accelerate the development of OLED lighting technology. In addition to hitting a new efficiency milestone, the teams continue to make progress in the lifetime and lighting quality of OLED lighting devices produced from roll-to-roll manufacturing.
The two companies have plans to introduce their first flexible OLED lighting product in 2011.