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OLED, Next-Generation Display, Heats Up

OLED, Next-Generation Display, Heats Up

JEONG Dong-Young

Oct. 15, 2007

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OLED display is receiving attention as the most promising next-generation flat panel. The self-luminous display does not require a backlight, consumes less energy, offers a high contrast ratio, and can be produced with a much thinner screen than liquid crystal displays, one of Korea’s chief exports.

OLEDs have been used for screens inside phones and MP3 players. In December 2007, Sony Corp. will lead the display commercialization with an 11-inch OLED TV, which was once considered impossible before 2010.

The Sony rollout further highlights the technical problems that have troubled competing next-generation displays, SED2 and e-paper. Canon, a leader in SED development, canceled plans for a mass-production plant in December 2006 and put off the introduction of an SED TV originally due for the fourth quarter of 2007, indefinitely. Meanwhile, the technology e-paper, already used for writing and pictures, is yet to be developed for video use.

According to the operating mode, OLED can be divided into Passive Matrix OLED (PMOLED) and Active Matrix OLED (AMOLED). It first was put to practical use in 1987. Even if AMOLED has many advantages over PMOLED in terms of color realization and screen enlargement, PMOLED has been used in mobile phones and MP3 players due to technical difficulties in manufacturing AMOLED substrate and high manufacturing costs. All OLEDs have had many problems including short life coming from its weakness to heat. Sony, however, resolved some of the problems regarding a short life of AMOLED. It adopted a new patterning method, using a laser which prevents a surface of a substrate from being degraded by the heat from emissive materials. This has enabled Sony’s faster-than-expected commercialization of an OLED TV that can nearly match the life span of existing TVs.

With technical problems surrounding life span, luminance and suitability to large-area screens largely solved, the OLED market is forecast to grow to US$4.4 billion in 2011, with the active matrix type taking the lead as hurdles involving size and technical features are surmounted to make OLEDs more appealing to the mass consumer market.

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