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Germany focuses on OLED opportunity

15 Jan 2010

Eleven of Germany's leading OLED vendors and research teams have formed an alliance to keep them at the forefront of the signage and specialized lighting sectors

The So-Light project aims to ensure that German OLED technology remains competitive, and to reinforce the country's position in the markets for signage and specialized lighting. Worth €14.7m, the project will run until June 2012.

"So-Light will provide the bridge between new OLED materials developed by the partners and real-world applications," Anke Lemke of consortium member Novaled told optics.org.

But Lemke stressed that, contrary to reports elsewhere, the So-Light project will not target OLED display applications: "The focus will be on applications in design lighting and interior automotive lights, along with industrial backlighting."

To achieve these goals, project partners will work on new optical technologies for light-guidance in OLEDs, alongside the development of processing techniques for small OLED molecules.

A range of materials will be investigated, including novel transport materials, redox dopants, triplet emitters and matrix materials. Manufacturing processes using small-molecule vacuum deposition are also a priority.

Pilot-plant facilities will be available through the Centre for Organic Materials and Electronic Devices, Dresden (COMEDD), which is operated by So-Light partner Fraunhofer Institute for Photonics Microsystems (IPMS). "An important part of the project is to perform application studies using demonstrators in the field, and to work on integration technologies for special application areas," noted Lemke.

The forthcoming ban on incandescent lightbulbs across the EU and the resulting need for energy-efficient and innovative light sources has put OLEDs in the spotlight. Part of the rationale behind So-Light is to ease the introduction of new OLED lighting products, according to project leader Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth of Novaled.

"The participation of leading German companies in So-Light will ensure a fast transition to new OLED lighting," he explained. "Introducing such technologies to the lighting market in the near-term is of major importance."

The So-Light consortium members are Novaled (Dresden), Sensient Imaging Technologies (Bitterfeld-Wolfen), Fraunhofer IPMS (Dresden), LEDON OLED Lighting (Dresden), Aixtron (Aachen), Fresnel Optics (Apolda), Hella KGaA Hueck & Co (Lippstadt), Siteco Beleuchtungstechnik (Traunreut), AEG-MIS (Ulm), Universität Paderborn/L-LAB (Paderborn) and Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster (Münster).

Around half of the project's funding will come from Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and half from the project partners themselves, following the normal pattern for BMBF-funded programmes.

"All 11 participants are committed to OLED lighting as one of the main future technologies for solid-state lighting," noted Lemke. "So-Light will build on existing collaborations between certain partners, and also create new synergies. By bringing more end-users into OLED development, So-Light will help to increase the critical mass of the sector in Germany and the wider world."

The potential growth in the OLED sector has made it a fruitful one for such collaborative programmes. Both Novaled and Fraunhofer IPMS are already participants in OLED100.EU, a pan-European consortium covered previously on optics.org.

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