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Universal Display agrees $4M Plextronics OLED deal

20 Jul 2012

Developer of organic LED materials and printed electronics specialist agree strategic alliance.

Universal Display Corporation (UDC), the New Jersey company that is one of the world’s leading developers of organic LED materials, has agreed a three-year strategic alliance with Plextronics to further commercialize the technology.

As part of the deal, UDC has also made a $4 million investment in Plextronics, which was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University to develop conductive polymer technology initially developed there by the research group of Richard McCullough.

Plextronics now sells conductive polymers for OLED, solar cell and plastic electronics applications, manufacturing the materials at its headquarters in Pittsburgh.

The two companies have already collaborated for many years, with Plextronics CEO Andy Hannah saying in a statement announcing the deal: “Plextronics has worked closely with UDC to develop initial Plexcore HIL products for UDC’s UniversalP2OLED platform.”

“The results of these efforts were compelling to the point it made sense to expand the relationship to include hole transport layer materials in order to achieve the next level of performance,” added Hannah.

High valuation
UDC is regarded as one of the leading exponents of OLED materials and technologies, with its business based largely on a licensing model. Among its key clients are Samsung, which is acknowledged as the world’s leading producer of active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) displays by some distance, as well as Sony, LG and Panasonic.

Winning the business of such high-profile clients has seen the value of UDC rise sharply over the past couple of years. The Nasdaq-listed firm currently has a market capitalization of around $1.75 billion – despite posting revenues of only $64.3 million over the past 12 months - and raised $250 million in a public offering of stock early last year.

At the recent Society for Information Display (SID) conference, UDC presented research showing a 15 cm by 15 cm white OLED lighting panel on a flexible substrate with a power efficacy of 47 lumens per Watt, along with a 70 lumen per Watt panel on a more conventional glass substrate.

The company also works closely with the US military on display applications, recently delivering a flexible AMOLED prototype to the US Air Force that is designed to replace the various paper maps and checklists that a pilot would traditionally keep on their knee – and avoiding the use of a glass substrate that is seen as hazardous in the cockpit environment.

For its part, Plextronics has previously collaborated at the OLED technology development stage with Germany’s Novaled and Cambrios Technologies, and also agreed a distribution deal covering the Japanese market with Sanyo Chemical Industries.

The venture-backed firm’s investors include the giant semiconductor equipment firm Applied Materials, and the Brussels-based chemicals company Solvay, which invested $15 million in Plextronics just over a year ago to support OLED and organic PV product development.

Universe Kogaku America Inc.Iridian Spectral TechnologiesHyperion OpticsHÜBNER PhotonicsLaCroix Precision OpticsOptikos Corporation CHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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