Osram achieves major step towards OLED-based automotive lighting

June 27, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Lighting technology company Osram claims it has taken a major step toward organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that are suitable for automotive applications: The company has developed an OLED that proved capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 85 degrees Celsius for several hundred hours in a laboratory long-term test.

Temperature stability is the biggest challenge when it comes to making OLEDs as surface area light sources suitable for use in cars. “Since the success of this research we're now tackling their future application in production vehicles”, says Ulrich Eisele, responsible for the OLED business segment at Osram. ”As the automotive industry plans and develops its future designs a long time in advance, we have to be involved today to help create the car of tomorrow.”

Light is becoming an increasingly important factor for automotive design. While, up until a few years ago, manufacturers stressed the importance of a car's shape more than anything, these days almost every make has its own distinctive “light face” – brought about by the aid of light diodes (LEDs).

To initiate further unique “bright” selling points, experts anticipate that in addition to point light source LED the related OLED technology will become an integral part in cars. OLEDs are surface light sources. The vast majority of lighting applications in cars requires surface light – especially lighting applications which serve visibility in road traffic such as indicators, rear lights or interior lighting. Osram has already come up with specific designs in collaboration with UnternehmerTUM, the center for innovation and business creation at the Technical University of Munich.

The biggest challenge in developing organic light-emitting diodes for automotive applications is temperature stability. Thus, in order to be suitable for use in cars, OLEDs have to meet stringent manufacturer specifications. In rear lights, for example, they must withstand temperature peaks of 85 degrees Celsius or higher. When the first OLED products for lighting applications were introduced almost three years ago, they were temperature-resistant for no more than two to three hours. With its new OLED technology, Osram has outdone this temperature resilience by a factor of a hundred. A further tenfold increase will make the first applications in automobiles viable. Current R&D trends anticipate this increase within