Manufacturers consider the future of LEDs and OLEDs

The barriers to adoption of new lighting technology were top of the agenda on the first day of the Lighting Fixture Design conference in London today.


Osram's Marc-Olivier Wendling


Mark Van Den Berg of Philips Lumileds highlighted how the value of LEDs has long been clear in various applications others than lighting, such as traffic lights, cars and TVs. But for users to accept LED as a general light source, the quality of light is ‘critical’, he said. Gradually improvements in efficacy and reductions in cost will also accelerate adoption of the technology.

Marc-Olivier Wendling of Osram spoke about OLED technology, saying that clients are impressed by OLEDs but not always convinced enough to invest. “Wow!” they say. “Great!” But the conversation still ends with, “Come back in five years.”

The potential advantages of OLEDs are pretty clear: they’re incredibly thin and flat, glare is low, heat is easy to manage, and surfaces can be made mirrored or transparent. They can even – in theory – be made bendable, although a satisfactory flexible alternative to the glass used to enclose OLEDs has not yet been developed.

The main barriers to the development of OLED technology, Wendling said, are competing technologies, performance and cost. OLED needs to get cheaper, brighter, more efficient and longer lasting – all while keeping its unique aesthetic appeal.

Still, the future for OLED is bright, Wendling believes. The US Department of Energy expects the cost to drop by about 25 per cent each year, and Wendling said Osram’s products are currently in line with this. Transparent OLEDs, he said, should be with us next year, and flexible ones by 2015.

Wendling described OLED as “a business revolution”. He urged manufacturers to “explore, occupy the field and start to rule the market. Don’t wait until the others do it.”

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