Another OLED biggie: World's largest installation

The year is still young, but so far it's been a 'big' one for LG Chem's OLED group.

A few weeks after unveiling what it claimed to be the world's largest OLED panel, the company declared another whopper, as it took the wraps off 'the world’s biggest building installation of OLED lighting' it said in a press release. 

The South Korean conglomerate didn't wander far from home to show off the 1,100 OLED panels which adorn the reading lamps on the tables stretching across Seoul National University's new main library, called the KwanJeong Library.

'Seoul National University adopted OLED lighting for the library’s reading lights because it is energy efficient and is extremely comfortable to the eyes,' LG said in the release. 'OLED lighting comes closest of any lighting source to natural sunlight and does not emit UV (ultraviolet), which increases eye fatigue, or produces blue light, which can cause eye damage.'

As we have written before, developers of OLEDs – organic light emitting diodes – believe that the technology represents the future of lighting. OLEDs are swatches of materials that emit light when excited by a current. They liberate lighting from conventional bulb form factors, and can be built into the fabric of anything – luminaires, furniture, bridges, buildings, walls, clothing, you name it.

Seoul National University in fact cited the design elegance and slimness as one reason why it tapped the technology.

'OLED lighting is the best lighting option for the library’s study areas since it protects the eyes while offering a soothing and simple design,' said one of the library's administrators in the press release.

But OLED engineers have not yet managed to match LEDs for energy efficiency and for longevity – serious obstacles when those two features represent the main selling point of LEDs. OLEDs are about half as energy efficient as LEDs, which are generally at least 80 percent more efficient than conventional incandescent lamps and are meant to last for 20 years or more. LEDs are diodes - semiconductors - that emit light.

OLED manufacturers are also struggling to bring down costs. For instance, LG Chem charges $680 for the new foot-square OLED panel that it introduced last month.

The panels in KwanJeong library operate at 60 lumens per watt (lm/W), compared to a typical 100 lm/W for LEDs. They measure 320-millimetres (a foot long) by 110-millimetres, and are only 0.88 mm thick. LG rated the lifetime at 40,000 hours, approximating the 50,000 hours of many LED ratings. LG Chem did not reveal the costs of the project.

Last autumn, a Japanese company, Kaneka, said it had developed an OLED panel that lasts 50,000 hours. But efficiency remained relatively low, at 20 lm/W. 

Also in the autumn, LG Chem said it would deliver a 100 lm/W, 50,000 hour OLED panel by November. But the company does not seem to have met that target date. Lux has asked LG for an update.

For now, size seems to matter to LG Chem, which calls itself 'the world's largest OLED manufacturer.' Delivery of an LED performance matcher would indeed mark another biggie.

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More photos of the big OLED installation:

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(those are vertical windows along the back wall, echoing the shape of the OLED panels)

Photos are from LG Chem

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