Excitement Builds As AMOLEDs Continue to Mature


by Julie J. Brown

It is an exciting time for the active-matrix organic-light-emitting-device (AMOLED) industry as manufacturers ramp up their production lines and impressive product prototypes are shown at major consumer-electronics shows. This overall momentum is due to the demonstrated attributes of OLED technology for flat-panel-display (FPD) applications of low power (by phosphorescence), excellent video image quality (by speed and color quality), and thin form factor. The impact of OLED technology, however, does not stop at FPD products on glass but also provides a vision for the future in flexible displays and efficient solid-state white lighting sources. The articles in this issue of Information Display provide a snapshot into each one of these opportunities that OLED technology presents.

An article in the Industry News section that was composed with the help of Yoshito Shiraishi and co-workers from Sony Corp. reports on Sony's large-area AMOLED displays that made a big splash at the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Sony showed both 11- and 27-in. OLED TVs with a thickness of only 3 and 10 mm, respectively. It took the consumer-electronics world by surprise. Brad Stone, a reporter from The New York Times, wrote about this Sony 27-in. OLED display: "The picture quality is extraordinary: bright, sharp, with deep colors. If Sony can make OLED TV sets economically, it could mean the end of the LCD."

Ryuji Nishikawa and his colleagues at Toppoly describe their work in developing AMOLED panels with their sights on small–to–large-area displays. With all of the technological excitement surrounding OLEDs, there are of course challenges that must be surmounted for manufacturing success. At the start of manufacturing of any new technology there are challenges. The Toppoly team discusses the critical issues for enabling low-cost high-yield AMOLED manufacturing and propose solutions to "pave the way for the success of AMOLED business."

Then switching gears away from OLED displays on rigid glass substrates, we move into the future of flexible OLED displays. A number of groups have put forth the vision for truly flexible or roll-up OLED displays. For example, last year, both Samsung SDI and Universal Display Corp. reported full-color AMOLED displays built on thin stainless-steel substrates. There are, however, a number of critical core technologies that must be addressed to enable the future of roll-up OLED displays. One of these technologies is flexible electrodes, which is addressed in an article by Jorma Peltola and the team from Eikos. The company has been pioneering the application of the popular carbon-nanotube (CNT) technology as flexible anodes for OLEDs. They have contributed a very interesting article to this issue on the current status and outstanding challenges of CNTs for flexible OLED displays.

Finally, we consider the application of white OLEDs for general solid-state lighting, which has been steadily increasing. The topic of more-power-efficient lighting is a global issue. The reason is simple – lighting consumes ~765 TWh of electricity each year just in the United States alone – or nearly 30% of all electricity produced for buildings. Given these statistics, it is clear that increasing the efficiency of illumination sources by a small amount has the potential to generate tremendous savings in both cost and energy use. Brian D'Andrade and colleagues from Universal Display Corp. report their latest results on high-efficiency white phosphorescent OLED light sources and comment on the future promise for niche and general illumination sources.

We hope you enjoy this Special Issue on OLEDs, which covers today's promise of AMOLED FPDs on glass and a view into the future for flexible OLED displays and energy efficient white light sources.

Julie J. Brown is Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at Universal Display Corp., 375 Phillips Blvd, Ewing, NJ 08618; telephone 609/671-0980, fax -0995, e-mail: jjbrown@universaldisplay.com>