New Approach to OLED HDTVs

The dominant technologies for HDTV are LCD and plasma flat panels. Other novel technologies are under development, but none are close to becoming commercial products any time soon. One of the most promising approaches is organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. These have the promise of an emissive screen that looks like a standard CRT — or better — with a panel that is much thinner and lighter than LCD or plasma.

Many obstacles stand in the way of the success of OLEDs, but DuPont may have taken some giant steps toward solving some of them. One problem is how the OLED material is applied to the substrate. One way involves using expensive vacuum equipment. Another uses ink jets to “print” the material, but this has some challenges for creating uniform displays. DuPont has come up with a relatively simple way to put a liquid coating on a surface, and control where the material “sticks” and where it doesn’t.

If DuPont can make this new manufacturing process work, it could result in less expensive and higher quality OLED panels. It will probably take a few years for this to become a reality, but according to DuPont, the total fabrication costs for a 15.4-inch wide format HDTV panel should be only 70% of LCD costs. And this even assumes lower yields for the OLED process than for LCD.

This could be a significant breakthrough for OLED displays, which can have significant performance advantages over LCDs. If DuPont can deliver on the promise of this new technique, we may have some new choices available in a few years.