Is OLED about to stage a breakthrough?

The first inkling that things are swinging in OLEDs’ favour was its first inclusion in an Apple product, the screen of the new iPhone X.

ORGANIC LEDs have been written off time and again, but this summer the technology could finally stage a breakthrough.

From top: An office luminaire using OLED panels; an OLED emergency light from Etap; a creative use of OLEDs in architecture; a flexible OLED panel from Korean manufacturer LG.

OLEDs – which are super-slim and flexible – have been dismissed by critics as too expensive and not delivering anything which standard LEDs can’t do. But somehow the sector has never gone away.

OLED is a light source that’s uniform and pleasant on the eyes. But it remains far behind LED in efficacy, cost, lifetime, and more.

Plus, luminaire makers are doing great things with edge-lit LED panels that offer many of the traditional OLED benefits.

In 2015, Philips sold off its Lumiblade OLED division, while Osram declared OLEDs as ‘too expensive’ for general lighting in 2016. Since then, the main keeper of the flame has been Korean manufacturer LG.

The first inkling that things are swinging in OLEDs’ favour was its first inclusion in an Apple product, the screen of the new iPhone X. Now rumours are rife that the company will switch to OLED for the screens of all three iPhone launches in 2019.

OLEDs are also a big story at at the Light + Building exhibition in Frankfurt in March. Bendable panels were attracting a lot of interest on the LG and OLEDWorks stands.

The products from OLEDWorks can only be bent in one dimension while LG Display products can be bent in both dimensions and that was evident in a demo called the Ribbon. Still, the panels from OLEDWorks are more pleasing to behold.

The LG Display manufacturing scheme uses a layer with a conductive matrix to spread current evenly in the panel.

You have to be relatively close to the panel to be able to see the grid, but once you know it’s present, it’s hard to forget that it’s there.

LG has clearly been encouraged by market reaction to its products, especially its unveiling of the world’s first 1000mm × 1200mm OLED lighting board.

The company told Business Korea magazine that it will boost its production of OLED lighting to 15,000 sheets a month by the end of this year.

It is also has set an ambitious target of increasing sales from US$9.3 million (€8 million, £7 million) last year to US$90 million (€80 million, £70 million) by 2020.






  • This year’s Lighting Fixture Design  Conference takes place on Wednesday 20 June and Thursday 21 June 2018. Organised by Lux and LEDs Magazine, the event takes place at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. For more information and to reserve you place, click HERE.



  • Additional reporting by Maury Wright, editor in chief of LEDs Magazine. Main pic courtesy of Tridonic 2017.