This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


OLED Lighting on the Ascendent by 2015

As the decade advances, organic LEDs (OLEDs) used for lighting, a technology now in its infancy, will gain on and approach parity with inorganic LEDs.

A couple of months back we took a look at the prospects for OLED lighting, a market in its earliest stages. OLEDs are widely used as displays on phones, tablets, laptops, and in other applications, such as TVs. Their use in lighting has so far been limited to specialized architectural and artistic applications in which the devices' high prices did not present an insurmountable obstacle.

The video below is from Philips Lumiblade, the company's OLED lighting division. It showcases some of the more artistic applications of OLEDs and points to a future in which prices have fallen, and efficacies and lifetimes have risen, enabling OLEDs to be used in a far wider variety of lighting scenarios. In many of these, OLEDs will compete directly with inorganic LEDs. (Another division of Philips, Lumileds, sponsors this site.)

Digitimes ran a commentary featuring some predictions for OLEDs going out to 2020. Where they mention prices, these predictions are in agreement with what the presenter tells us in the Lumiblade video.

The market to 2020
According to Siu Han and Jackie Chang, writing in Digitimes, the OLED lighting market is poised to take off in 2015. By 2020, OLEDs used for lighting will have achieved parity with inorganic LEDs in terms of dollars per lumen, (both reaching about $15 per 1,000 lumen. OLEDs will also be catching up in luminous efficacy. The efficacy of OLEDs used for lighting in 2012 was below 50 lm/W; this is expected to rise to 120 lm/W in 2015 and to match that of inorganic LEDs in 2020.

As an example, Digitimes cited PIOL, a joint venture of Panasonic and Idemitsu, which began volume production of OLED lighting panels last fall. The initial product, with a CRI above 90, has a luminous efficacy of only 30 lm/W and a lifetime of 10,000 hours. PIOL's roadmap features new generations in 2015 and 2018; the latter is targeted to 130 lm/W and 40,000 hours.

Digitimes quoted Konika Minolta studies as to the size of the LED and OLED lighting markets: $13.6 billion and $1 billion, respectively, in 2015 (at today's exchange rate for the Japanese Yen). In 2020 LEDs will account for $18.5 billion and OLEDs for $8.8 billion.

Another supplier is Lumiotec, a joint venture of Mitsuibishi, Rohm, Toppan Printing, and Mitsui. Lumiotec now makes 145mm (5.7in.) square lighting panels at a cost in the range from $4,500 to $10,500 per square meter. (In the video, the presenter, Lumiblade's communications specialist Dietmar Thomas, implied a current price near $9,000 per square meter.) Digitimes reported that by 2017 Lumiotec expects prices to have fallen to the range from $1,050 to $1,750 per square meter. (Thomas implied an eventual price of $1,300, without giving a date.)

Competition is good
As founding editor Lee Goldberg wrote here in February, the existence of an equivalent but separate lighting technology is very likely to benefit both LEDs and OLEDs over the long term, and more importantly to benefit customers of both. Goldberg pointed by analogy to the solar arena, where crystalline and thin-film technologies played off one another to drive down prices and jack up efficiencies. We'll see a similar effect in lighting, once OLEDs reach escape velocity around 2015.

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