Researchers at two of the Fraunhofer Institutes in Dresden have announced the successful production of OLED devices using a continuous roll-to-roll process. While these devices are targeted for lighting devices, it is a step that could have a big impact on the future of OLED televisions.
The OLED devices created at Fraunhofer are interesting on a number of counts. First, they use an inexpensive aluminum foil as the substrate. This provides a flexible base and also effectively blocks the oxygen and water vapor that can destroy OLED materials. The other feature is that a top layer of transparent encapsulating material was deposited over the OLED materials in a roll-to-roll process as well. This demonstrates that it may be possible to create high-volume production facilities to create OLED lighting products.
Devices for lighting applications simply have a large area that emits light evenly across the entire device, and thus are much easier to make than a television display that requires finely patterned materials to create a color image. The new development of successful roll-to-roll production of OLED lighting devices helps move us closer to inexpensive OLED HDTV displays, however, by improving low-cost manufacturing processes and by increasing the demand for greater volumes of OLED materials which should result in lower costs.
The bottom line is that we’re still many years away from OLED HDTVs that can compete with LCD and plasma prices, but this is an important step along the way.