What are organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs)?
Organic light-emitting diodes are devices made from ultrathin organic layers which light up when they are connected to voltage. They are comprised of an organic layer sequence (typical thickness about nm), which is inserted between an anode and a cathode.
What applications are organic materials used for?
Organic light-emitting diodes are already used for displays in small electronic appliances such as mobile telephones, car radios and digital cameras. OLED-based displays have already conquered a $ 475 million market, and a billion dollar market has already been forecasted for the next few years. A similar rapid development for OLED illumination as well as organic solar cells is to be expected.
OLED Lighting and Signage
Due to the rapid increase in the efficiency of these illumination diodes, which has already surpassed inorganic illumination diodes in the case of green diodes, OLED are opening up new markets as two-dimensional illuminants, in particular for textured surface illumination. OLED make very thin illumination surfaces possible, which have no glare effect whatsoever. Due to the thin-layer technology, even the realization of flexible illuminants is possible, which allows for completely new applications in room lighting. For the development and manufacture of OLED illumination modules on flexible substrates, COMEDD utilizes a roll-to-roll coating system from the Dresden company Von Ardenne Anlagentechnik GmbH. Fraunhofer COMEDD co-operates closely with Fraunhofer FEP in the development of vacuum coating technology. The facility will also be set up there.
With the combination of OLEDs and sensory elements on a single CMOS chip, absolutely new functional devices such as micro-displays are possible, which can be used for direct in-eye projection. Further possibilities are innovative sensory and optoelectronic applications such as flow or color sensors with integrated light sources.
Organic Solar Cells
Organically based solar cells represent a new class of thin-layer solar cells which offer price advantages over traditional silicon systems. Furthermore, they can be applied (similar to OLEDs) to flexible substrates.
Which role does Dresden play?
In the last few years, Dresden has developed into a research and development center for organic materials. In addition to OLED, the research of organic solar cells is also experiencing a marked increase in Dresden. COMEDD holds a cutting-edge position in the fields of production and refining processes and is part of Europe´s largest cluster for organic electronics OES.
What does Fraunhofer COMEDD offer?
Up until now, there has been hardly any capacity for production-oriented research and development in Germany. Impediments for industrial mass production are the investment risks of new technology as well as the dominance of Asian display manufacturers (over 90% of OLED displays come from Asia). COMEDD is improving the basic conditions with its unique infrastructure, which makes the transfer of research and development work into pilot production lines possible. This holds especially true in the field of OLED for illumination and display systems, as well as for the production of solar cells.