Europeans Join Forces to Develop Organic LEDs

February 16, 2005


A photo of a hand holding a small square device, with electrodes attached, that is glowing white.

White-light OLEDs are flat sheets of material that glow white when a voltage is applied to them.
Credit: Philips

More than 20 of Europe's leading companies and research establishments in the fields of lighting applications and organic electronics and materials announced on February 1st that they have formed an integrated research and development project to advance organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies. Unlike the LEDs that are currently found in many consumer electronics, OLEDs use organic molecules that can be spread out over a large surface, causing the entire surface to emit light. The project's goal is to demonstrate bright, white OLED light tiles—with a long lifetime and high energy efficiency—for use in general lighting applications by 2008. The project is called "OLLA," which is an extreme abbreviation of "high brightness Organic Light emitting diodes for information communication technologies and Lighting Applications." See the OLLA Web site and press release (PDF 114 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

According to ABI Research, OLEDs are already showing up in the dashboard displays of some cars, as well as cell phones, digital cameras, and car radios. To help OLEDs find wider use, Universal Display Corporation is currently working with DOE to develop an OLED-based "smart window" that can switch between a transparent window and a source of white light. The company is also developing infrared-emitting OLED displays for use by military personnel wearing night vision equipment, and is exploring the use of ink-jet printers to produce OLED panels. See the press releases from ABI Research and Universal Display.

Traditional LEDs continue to gain ground as well. Carmanah Technologies Corporation continues to rack up sales for its solar-powered LED products, with applications in aviation lights, illuminated traffic signs, and solar-powered warning flashers. In early February, the company received a $615,000 order from the U.S. Marine Corps to supply solar-powered LED airfield lights for the Marine Corps' second-largest airbase in the Middle East. See the Carmanah press releases.