Lighting Industry, News

Kaneka doubles life of OLED

The future dangles: These Kaneka OLEDs were hanging around at Frankfurt's Light + Building trade fair in 2012. The company has doubled the product's life expectancy, one of several improvements needed before OLEDs define the lighting industry.

Another advance on the OLED front that could help jump-start the long stalled takeoff of the technology: Japan’s Kaneka Corp. has doubled the lifetime of its panels, to about 50,000 hours.

OLEDs – organic light emitting diodes – are sheets of materials that emit light when excited by a current. Many pundits regard them as the future of lighting because they allow designers to build light sources into the fabric of lamps, furniture, buildings, fashions and just about anything, especially as manufacturers figure out how to make them bend.

But high production costs, short lifetime and poor efficiency compared to LEDs – electronic chips that form the basis of LED bulbs – have dampened the market.

Kaneka currently has a production capacity of about 20,000 panels, according to various English-language reports that summarise information from the Japanese language website MoneyDJ.

‘The company plans to expand the production capacity with an aim to halve the manufacturing costs,’ wrote OLED-info. ‘Kaneka plans to achieve OLED sales of ¥50 billion (around $450 million) by 2020.’

What’s not clear is whether the new panels improve the efficiency of Kaneka’s existing OLEDs, which according to OLED-info is about 20 lumens per watt (lm/w), extremely low by LED standards which range around lm/w. Earlier this year Kaneka entered a develpment partnership with Ewing, New Jersey-based Universal Display, which could lead to improvements in efficiency, OLED-info specualated. The new panels measure 8 x 8 cm by 1 mm, the report states.

The stories do not indicate when the panels might be ready.

Last month, South Korea’s LG Chem announced a breakthrough OLED that it rated at 100 lm/w and 40,000 hours. LG Chem is targeting November availability, in partnership with Atlanta-based Acuity Brands, among others.

UK research firm cintelliq recently predicted that OLEDs will start generally competing against LEDs by 2016.

Photo is a screenshot from the Kaneka website.