OLEDs ‘could become cheaper to produce than LEDs’

The cost of producing OLEDs could fall lower than that of producing LEDs - if they were made on a larger scale, an OLED researcher has said.

Professor Poopathy Kathirgamanathan of Brunel University in the UK said: ‘If you can produce a 77in OLED TV display, you can also produce a 77in OLED lighting panel – at a much lower price. If you can go up to one million square metres in the production of OLED lighting panels, you can produce OLEDs much cheaper than the LED lamps you buy from Tesco.’

Kathirgamanathan, who leads the Organic Electronics Group in the Wolfson Centre for Materials Processing at Brunel University, was addressing an audience of small and medium-sized business leaders interested in developing lighting technology.

He added: ’OLEDs can produce a very high colour-rendering index compared to LEDs, and research from Acuity Brand Lighting that compares the price of warm white LED luminaires with OLEDS shows that OLEDs are slightly cheaper. The luminaire cost of an OLED is half the price of an LED, so the reason why OLED is expensive at the moment is just the scale of manufacturing.’

Other speakers at the event pointed out that the additional costs associated with OLED manufacturing needed to be taken into account; ‘If the energy of producing OLEDs and the cost of disposal is added to the price of production, we’re not saving anything,’ said professor Jack Silver, director of the Wolfson Centre for Materials.

John Gorse, technical solutions manager at Philips Lighting, said: ‘The problem we’ve got with OLEDs at the moment is that they’re expensive and difficult to produce. But in the next five to eight years we will be able to produce much larger panels that will last 30,000 hours and have at least a 120lm/W output. Until now, they’ve been created almost for the sake of creating it, but that’s about to change.’

Brunel University’s Wolfson Centre owns one of two £1 million machines in the UK that can produce 10x10cm OLED panels. The university is working with small and medium-sized businesses in the UK in an EU-funded programme that helps SMEs get access to research to gain a competitive advantage in lighting and other fields.

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