Article last updated on: Aug 11, 2019

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) are light emitting panels made from organic (carbon based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied. OLED are used today to make beautiful and efficient displays and large, efficient and beautiful lighting panels.

Stage Entertainment Hamburg Theatre OLED installation 2 photo

An OLED 'light bulb' is a thin film of material that emits light. OLED is the only technology that can create large "area" lighting panels (as opposed to point or line lighting enabled by LEDs and fluorescent bulbs). OLEDs can be used to make flexible and transparent panels, and can also be color-tunable. OLEDs emit beautiful soft diffused light - in fact OLEDs lighting is the closest light source to natural light (with the exception of the old incandescent lamps).

LG Chem truly flexible OLED lighting panel photo

The OLED lighting market

OLED is an amazing technology for lighting - it creates beautiful, efficient and healthy light sources. OLED lighting has great promise but unfortunately the high price of production is a challenge that no one has managed to overcome and OLED lighting remains a small niche industry as of 2019.

In the early years, several large lighting makers (including GE, Philips, OSRAM, Panasonic, NEC and others) had active OLED lighting programs, but slowly almost all of these companies dropped out of the market - for various reasons - but the main one being that the large investments in large scale production are not certified to lead to market adoption and the competition with LED lighting is extremely difficult.



There are several companies that still develop and produce OLED lighting panels, but the production volume is still small and most makers target niche markets such as the automotive, health and premium designer markets. Some makers are also offering OLED lamps - click here for our OLED lamp listings.

Konica Minolta built the world's most advanced OLED fab - a Roll-to-Roll flexible OLED lighting fab - that has a capacity to produce a million flexible and color-tunable OLED panels each month. The Japanese company recently announced that it shipped 15,000 flexible OLEDs to a Japanese Tulips Festival - by far the largest OLED installation to date, but real mass production at that fab is yet to be achieved as Konica Minolta still faces technical challenges and constant reorganization.

Konica Minolta Shining Tulip Festival photo

Further reading

The latest OLED lighting news:

The Fraunhofer FEP Monarch flexible transparent OLED lighting kit - hands on review

In 2018 the Fraunhofer FEP institute announced it is starting to offer a design kit that includes several flexible and transparent OLED lighting panels. The Monarch Kit includes several colored butterflies samples, and the researchers were kind enough to send us one such kit for a short review.

So first of all, these OLEDs look beautiful. They shine a beautiful uniform colored light and are very nicely done. There's not much functionality, but it shows the potential of flexible OLED lighting quite nicely.

Here are Fraunhofer's modular flexible OLED lighting strips

A few days ago the Fraunhofer FEP institute announced that it developed OLED light strips made from tiled flexible OLED lighting panels, and now we have these nice looking strips on video:

The video was taken at Fraunhofer FEP's booth at the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 in Darmstadt, Germany. The strips, produced in a sheet-to-sheet process can be connected without creating visible interruptions to the active surface. This makes it possible to produce infinitely long OLED light strips. Each segment can be controlled individually - so that different dimming or dynamic signalling can be achieved.

Fraunhofer researchers developed flexible modular OLED light strips

The Fraunhofer FEP institute developed OLED light strips made from tiled flexible OLED lighting panels. The new strips can be produced in any length and will be on display next week at the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 in Darmstadt, Germany.

Fraunhofer OLED light strips photo

The Fraunhofer FEP produces the flexible OLED panels in a sheet-to-sheet process, and in such a way that they can be connected without creating visible interruptions to the active surface. This makes it possible to produce infinitely long OLED light strips. Each segment can be controlled individually - so that different dimming or dynamic signalling can be achieved.

The EU to continue and support the PI-SCALE / LYTEUS project

In 2016 the EU launched the PI-SCALE project, which established a European-wide roll-to-roll flexible OLED lighting pilot production line, with an aim to enable companies of all sizes to quickly and cost effectively test and scale up their flexible OLED lighting concepts. In 2018 the EU has launched a €14 million initiative within PI-SCALE called LYTEUS, which provides the expertise and capability required to progress an OLED lighting concept from an idea and into a commercialized product.

Sample OLED lighting designs, Lyteus 2019

The PI-SCALE project has successfully been completed, and the Fruanhofer FEP institute now announced that following a meeting with the EU Commission representatives, it was decided that the OLED lighting pilot line services will continue to be funded, under the lead of the Fraunhofer FEP. The pilot line service will continue under the name LYTEUS.

Audi to unveil a new automotive Digital OLED taillight technology new month

Audi is set to introduce a new OLED lighting technology they call Digital OLED which uses multi-segment OLED taillight modules that can show signs and information - or just display new lighting designs. This is not a new idea, but it is interesting to see Audi's new take on it.

 Audi Digital OLED technology examples slide

The modules use 50 red OLED triangular panels that can be controlled like a dot-matrix display. Audi will showcase this new technology at the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting in September 23rd 2019.

OLED lighting 2019: out with the old, in with the new

OLED is an amazing technology for lighting - it creates beautiful, efficient and healthy light sources. OLED lighting has great promise but unfortunately the high price of production is a challenge that no one has managed to overcome and OLED lighting remains a small niche industry as of 2019.

In the early years, several large lighting makers (including GE, Philips, OSRAM, Panasonic, NEC and others) had active OLED lighting programs, but slowly almost all of these companies dropped out of the market - for various reasons - but the main one being that the large investments in large scale production are not certified to lead to market adoption and the competition with LED lighting is extremely difficult.

The DoE grants $1 million to OLEDWorks for flexible OLED lighting R&D

The United States Department of Energy (DoE) granted $1.05 million for OLEDWorks, allocated through the DoE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The funds will be used to further improve efficiency and lower the costs of flexible OLED lighting panels, which will help reduce energy consumption while simultaneously providing healthier, unique lighting solutions that are cost competitive in the main stream lighting markets.

OLEDWorks Lumicurve Wave photo

In November 2018 OLEDWorks announced that its first flexible OLED lighting panels are now commercially available. The OLEDWorks LumiCurve Wave are produced on Corning's 0.1mm thin Willow Glass flexible glass substrates. OLEDWorks says that the Wave panels are extremely thin and light and deliver the superb light quality and excellent color rendering that is uniquely achievable with OLED.

DSCC sees the OLED material market growing from $1 billion in 2018 to over $2 billion in 2022

DSCC analysts say that OLED stack materials will grow from $1.04 billion in 2018 to over $2 billion in 2022 - a CAGR of 17%.

OLED material revenue by application (2017-2023, DSCC)

DSCC says that up until now it greatly underestimated Novaled's revenues, and it now says that Novaled generated revenues of $97 million in 2017 and $122 million in 2018. Novaled is the third largest OLED material company by revenue - following Universal Display and Merck. The three companies combined will hold a market share of 56% in 2023.

NTHU installs over 200 OLED candle-light lamps at Taiwan's Smangus tribe

Taiwan's National Tsing-Hua University (NTHU) Professor Jou has been researching the hazards of blue light for many years, warning us against the hazards of modern lighting and focusing on OLED lighting as the technology that enables low blue-light emission lighting. In 2015, NTHU started to develop its low blue-light candle-light orange-type OLED technology, initially in collaboration with Wisechip and later with China-based OLED lighting producer First-o-lite.

NTHU has been promoting these candle-light OLEDs for the Smangus tribe in Taiwan's Jianshi Township which has been avoiding artificial light pollution. NTHU and the tribe managed to raise money to produce 240 OLED lamps, 90 for street lights and the rest to light up more than 100 cabins in the tribe's village. This is a beautiful project and hopefully will bring more attention to the hazards of blue light and the advantages of OLED lighting technologies.

Lumtec to expand OLED lighting production in Q4, set to IPO in Taiwan today

Taiwan-based Luminescence Technology (Lumtec) is set to debut today on the Taipei stock exchange emerging stock board. The company says that it plans to expand its OLED lighting production capacity in Q4 2019 from 150,000 50x35 mm panels per month to around 600,000 units.

LumTec OLED lighting types at Taipei AMPA 2019

Lumtec says that it sees a large demand coming from the automotive market for OLED lighting panels, and it expects its utilization rates to reach 100% in the current quarter. This means that the company sees around 450,000 panels shipping in this quarter, which seems highly optimistic, especially as it says that it has currently shipping samples for five companies with volume orders expected in 2020 and the demand from automotive companies is not likely to expand very quickly as first adoption comes from luxury cars.

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDsCambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDs