The Value Proposition of OLEDs


by Julie J. Brown

As I set out this year to seek articles for the 2009 OLED issue of Information Display, I was compelled to take a step back and view the OLED industry as one not so intimately involved in it. I focused my thinking on the value proposition for small-to-large active-matrix OLED flat-panel displays (FPDs) and quickly realized the key was sitting right in front of me in everyday life. We are living in an energy-conscious or "green"-focused world at the same time that we have an ever-increasing desire for information to be displayed to us on our hand-held, laptop, or wall-mounted devices. This information is predominantly brought to all of us through FPDs. And AMOLED technology fits right into this picture, being a low-power or green technology, with excellent image quality and a low-cost roadmap. From this starting point, I decided to reach out to industry experts to write about these opportunities for AMOLED FPDs past, present, and future. The responses I received were really intriguing as is evident from the cover-page collage of images of OLED-TV prototypes received from Sony (21 in.), Samsung (31 in.), and, the most recent player to join, LG Display (15 in.), along with the articles described below. It is going to be a real exciting and pivotal year for our industry.

The first article comes from Antti Lääperi of Nokia, who has taken it upon himself to study the OLED ecosystem. He shares with us a thought-provoking perspective on how this ecosystem is developing and ties his thinking into a discussion of disruptive technology. Lääperi identifies key potentially disruptive elements for OLED technology (as compared to TFT-LCD technology) to include the use of active materials, the ability to achieve lower power consumption in 2009 (by addition of green phosphorescence), and application to white lighting. His thinking is summarized by a keen focus on green aspects of the technology that will drive the OLED ecosystem.

The next article is from Barry Young, Managing Director of the OLED Association, who takes a hard look at the path of OLED FPD commercialization to date and lays out a set of challenges for the future. Young has an interesting perspective, having analyzed the display industry for a number of years now and having most recently created the OLED Association to help establish a common marketing platform and standards for the growth of the OLED FPD industry. He takes us through what he calls the "hype" and then the reality check for passive-matrix OLED displays. He then focuses on the AMOLED industry, which he believes will put the industry "on the right track." He lays out the challenges for AMOLED industry growth with a focus on TV applications. This focus on OLED TVs is explained by the entrancing image quality that AMOLEDs provide for this application. Young discusses the key areas for continued technology improvement to include energy efficiency, operational lifetime, yield, and manufacturing process scaling. He then touches on using OLEDs in flexible displays and lighting. The article ends with a great perspective: OLED FPDs should not be viewed as a threat to TFT-LCDs but more as "an extension" of FPDs into a new front place technology, namely OLEDs.

Finally, the third article was contributed by Hye-Dong Kim and colleagues from Samsung Mobile Display (SMD). Today, SMD has taken on the leading position in the area of mobile AMOLED displays with great intensity. There are now new products announced on almost a weekly basis that advertise the use of OLED as the display. This is very exciting. The next potential product on the horizon for SMD is the OLED TV. In this article, Kim shares with us a perspective on technology choices and manufacturing vision for SMD's OLED-TV business. He touches on key attributes driving the industry, including excellent image quality and low power consumption for green TV products. He then focuses much of the article on manufacturing process selection for both backplane and frontplane technologies that are required to realize a successful OLED-TV business. The article is rounded out by a stunning image of SMD's most recent 40-in. FHD-TV prototype, which has been drawing crowds at exhibitions.

I hope you enjoy reading these three articles and that the information is helpful in developing your own image of AMOLED displays today and into the future. It is truly an exciting time for this industry and an opportunity to join forces to build the OLED ecosystem by driving technologies forward and participating together in entities such as the OLED Association. On a personal note, I cannot wait for my 40-in. OLED TV!


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