Process Economics Program Report 234A
Organic Light Emitting Diodes
Published: December 2002
Organic light emitting diode (OLEDs) polymers represent a family of electronic display devices that use organic molecules with conjugated double bonds that emit a bright light when there is a small voltage difference placed across thin film layers of the molecules that are separated by conducting plates. An OLED configuration consists of a thin film of light emitting chemical sandwiched between electrically conducting plates; at least one of which is transparent. The system is assembled as thin films on an inert substrate. Although production quantities of these materials is small by comparison to many industrial organic chemicals the prices are high and growth rates are expected to remain in double digit territory for some time. Annual world market for optoelectronic materials currently is less than 50 metric tons per year, but the market value of this rapidly growing market is already approaching more than one billion dollars per year in sales.
There are two forms of commercial OLED displays: passive matrix and active matrix. Unlike conventional active matrix liquid crystal displays (LCDs) used in personal computers, cellular phones and similar devices, OLED displays do not require backlit sources. Another advantage is that OLED displays offer a wide viewing angle (up to 160 o).
This PEP report examines the current and anticipated future status of the technology, compares OLED display technology with its generic competition, identifies organizations active in commercial development, and presents the chemistry and physics supporting the technology.