Printing OLED displays: has their time finally come? Asks IDTechEx: Page 3 of 5

February 25, 2019 //By Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh
Printing OLED displays: has their time finally come? Asks IDTechEx
Solution processed light emitting organic materials were demonstrated in 1989 with a tiny 0.1 EQE (external quantum efficiency). Since then there has been tremendous progress on material synthesis/production as well as on display processing. However, thus far, commercialization has remained elusive, but a page may be about to turn.

Previously, any transition from evaporation to solution processing would impose a significant performance penalty. This is no longer necessarily the case. Therefore, the performance progress on the material side has eliminated, or at least strongly weakened the major barrier against the adoption of printing.
The lifetime of solution OLEDs still need to be further extended, though. An exact benchmarking is difficult because suppliers do not always speak the same language and mean different things by 'lifetime'. Each can use a different brightness level or lifetime definition (T90, T50, etc). Nonetheless, it is still the case that the lifetime of solution OLED materials lags behind evaporated ones. This gap will likely be closed with further development.

Printed OLED displays: can they be commercially manufactured?
The processing of solution OLED materials over large areas and in a commercial production is not, and has not been, easy. However, as can be seen below, the community now has extensive accumulated knowhow. This is because it has been working on printing OLEDs for over 15 years. Indeed, the first commercial product with a printed OLED display appeared as early as 2004. Granted, this was a small passive matrix display. Since then there have been numerous prototypes. These prototypes often targeted large area displays such as TVs, since the benefits of printing are stronger in that size range. Furthermore, large area displays can do with low PPI levels, thus relaxing fine feature printing requirements. Of course, there have also been small-sized high-PPI demonstrators but there are far fewer since the commercial motivation behind them is weaker.

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