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OLED market set for boom

17 Jun 2002

Consumer devices based on organic LEDs will challenge liquid-crystal displays in two years, says market analyst.

The future for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays looks bright. That's the prognosis of the latest study by US industry analyst Stanford Resources. The firm predicts that the global market for OLED displays will hit USD 2.3 bn in 2008, well up from a modest USD 112 m this year.

OLED displays are an emerging flat-panel technology based on layers of organic materials forming a p-n junction that emits light when injected holes and electrons recombine. The organic materials are commonly either small molecules or conjugated polymers.

Displays based on small-molecule OLEDs are already on the market, and Stanford says that polymer-based OLED displays will make their market debut this year. But the firm isn't making predictions about the market share.

"It's still too early to say," said Kimberly Allen, Stanford's director of technology and strategic research. "Polymers may be better suited for large area manufacturing techniques. On the other hand, small molecules may be better at high-resolution applications."

The biggest technical challenge for OLEDs now, says Allen, is their poor lifetime. Generally, consumer devices should last 10 000 hours. "A lot of OLED materials and devices aren't quite there yet, but they're getting close," she said.

Allen believes that OLED companies developing efficient manufacturing processes now, will be in a position to compete with liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) in the next couple of years.

The report says that the active-matrix OLED display market will mushroom to USD 1.8 bn in 2008 to account for 78 % of the total OLED segment. Direct-view active-matrix OLED displays will hit the market in pilot-line quantities this year followed by more substantial numbers in 2004.

OLED technology is well suited for flexible substrates. The study says that continued development in plastic substrates and organic electronics will play a role in the OLED industry over the next decade.

  • Organic Light Emitting Diode Displays is available from Stanford Resources. For further information, see "www.stanfordresources.com".

    Lisa van Beurden is a contributing editor at Optics.org.

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