OLED displays are currently the focal point of the commercial plastic electronics industry. Yet there are many OLED developers working keenly on next big market for the technology: lighting.
Until 2011 much of the progress reported in OLED lighting had been in scaling up suitable manufacturing capacity; progress in device lifetimes and efficiency; and a range of demonstrator devices, or evaluation kits for luminaire makers and lighting designers to assess the potential of the technology.
There is much more to come from OLED lighting, as recent announcements have suggested. Alongside product launches from
Novaled venture Liternity and Acuity Brands, there was the €40 million investment by Philips in an OLED lighting manufacturing facility in Aachen, Germany, announced in May.
OLEDs promise to be a more sustainable option for lighting, particularly as little energy is wasted in heat - a thermal management concern that applies to other lighting technologies, especially LEDs. Coupled with the design possibilities of a versatile technology that can be applied to various surfaces - maybe even curved - OLEDs represent a compelling new opportunity for lighting in buildings.
The near-term OLED lighting market is, however, a niche compared to expected widescale implementation of the technology in a solidstate lighting future.
Yet the success of the current wave of products could help illustrate the extent to which OLED lighting can achieve its full potential.
Although products are being pushed by the OLED lighting industry, keen to create some commercial momentum for its technology, the applications best suited to these devices have not been fully established yet.
The initial steps into the marketplace happening now and in 2012 will be a litmus test for the industry's commercial potential overall.
This article appears in full in Volume 4, issue 3 of +Plastic Electronics magazine. To read this article, along with more high-value, exclusive content, subscribe to +Plastic Electronics magazine.
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