September 2008


Hat Tip: Something’s happening at General Electric Co.’s research campus in New York that could make nearly every household lamp obsolete. 

Inside the windowless industrial building is a semitrailer-sized machine that actually prints lights. The machine works by coating an 8-inch plastic film with chemicals and sealing it with a layer of metal foil. An electric current is then applied to the sheet that gives it a blue-white glow. 

These illuminated strips can then be placed on a wall or a window, or wrapped around a pillar to provide light.  And unlike nearly every other lighting source, the light strips would not require a lamp or other fixture, although an electrical outlet would still be needed.  

The sheets get their luminance from compounds known as organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.  And while the technology is not yet perfected, it is far beyond the initial development stages.

Today, OLED’s are starting to be used in cell phone displays and televisions, and companies such as Philips and Siemens are moving full steam ahead in implementing the new technology to make lighting sources.

In fact, GE’s OLED printer was made on its sprawling upstate New York research campus, not too far from where a GE physicist figured out a practical way to use tungsten metal as the filament in conventional light bulbs.  Nearly a century later, those light bulbs are still widely in use today.

The incandescent bulb set the standard for home lighting with its small and bright form factor.  But because of their brightness they needed to be reflected and diffused with lampshades and frosted glass.  With OLEDs, all of that could change given their broad, diffuse light sources that provide more of a gentle glow.

The large glowing sheets could also make light sources out of everyday objects. For instance, GE imagines placing OLEDs on the inside of window blinds, or even making OLED wallpaper, both made possible by the material’s flexibility.

"We have a lot of ideas for what we can do with it," Ingo Maurer, a German lighting designer, told the Associated Press.

He and his firm have already developed the first commercially available OLED lamp.  The firm is selling the lamp in a limited edition of 25, and Maurer expects to deliver the first two units this month at an undisclosed but likely collector-level price. At this stage, Maurer’s lamp is more of a novelty than a practical lighting source.  The lamp is dim, growing slowly dimmer and losing half its brightness after about 2,000 hours.

The glass OLED panels in Maurer's lamp are made by Osram Opto Semiconductors, a subsidiary of Germany’s Siemens AG, the parent of GE-competitor Osram Sylvania.

Osram Opto made the panels using a costly, time-consuming process known as vacuum deposition. One virtue of this method, which has dominated OLED development, is that it can be combined with technologies used in LCD displays to make full-color OLED TVs.   Sony Corp. currently sells an 11-inch model for $2,500.

But before OLED TVs can be mass marketed they must become larger and less expensive.  That's the issue GE hopes to tackle with its printer, which replaces vacuum deposition with a process that's not much more complex than the printing newspapers.

"We're trying to be as low-tech as possible," Anil Duggal, who leads GE's OLED research team, told the AP.

GE now plans to build a bigger machine for printing panels several feet wide.  According to Duggal, these large panels could become commercially available as early as 2010.    

However, initially small production runs would mean prices out of range for most consumers.  The luminous OLEDs could nevertheless be marketed for niche, luxury settings, such as casinos or upscale restaurants, where the OLED lights could help create striking architectural or artistic effects.

A few years from now, printing could reduce the OLED prices to little more than the cost of the material it's printed on, according to Janice Mahon, vice president of technology commercialization at Universal Display Corp. The Ewing, N.J-based company is a leader in OLED research, and develops some of the organic compounds, similar to the way dyes are used to color clothes.

If printed on metal foil, an OLED light would cost less than a dollar per square foot, according to Mahon.

This distinguishes OLEDs from inorganic LEDs, another promising technology often hailed as the future of lighting.  Inorganic LEDs, the tiny lights used in electronic gadgets, are beginning to be used in commercial lighting as well, where their extreme longevity compensates for higher production costs.  

Since inorganic LEDs are made through semiconductor manufacturing techniques, a cluster of LEDs producing light equivalent to that of a standard bulb can cost more than $100.

Although both LEDs and OLEDs offer the potential for significant energy savings compared with standard incandescent bulbs, matching fluorescents will be tougher.   This year Universal Display created OLEDs that exceeded the energy efficiency of fluorescents, but with some sacrifice in longevity. 

"It's not going to be competitive with fluorescents in 2010," Duggal said.

Nanomarkets LLC analyst Lawrence Gasman said LEDs would likely coexist with large, diffuse OLEDs. 

"Together, they make for a nice lighting future," Gasman told the AP, adding that OLED lighting sales could reach $5.9 billion by 2015.

However, not everyone shares Gasman’s optimism.

Bob Sagebiel, technical marketing manager for lighting at distributor Arrow Electronics Inc., believes OLEDs may have a hard time gaining market acceptance because they are so different from current lighting technology.

For example, an OLED panel won't fit into any of the 20 billion light-bulb sockets in place throughout the world, he said.  And commercial buildings will likely need rewiring to use the large OLED panels, which won’t fit into existing fluorescent tube fixtures.

Also, for companies such as GE and Osram to reach consumers, they'll need to first go through the makers of light fixtures, which Sagebiel called “an industry that is tremendously conservative”.

Additionally, there are manufacturing issues to contend with, particularly in making OLEDs both long-lasting and power-efficient.    Since they gradually wear out with use, exposure to atmospheric oxygen can quickly destroy the panels.

But for all its challenges, OLED technology is better positioned to take on the lighting market than older technologies that produce thin, printable light sources.   Electroluminescent lights, used in Indiglo watches and car dashboards, have been around for decades but never become competitive in brightness or efficiency.

"In the 1950s, people were talking about electroluminescence the way we talk about OLEDs today," Duggal said.

"It's humbling."


LEDs Conference in Asia March-April L2009

Conference Agenda


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

11:00 Registration

12:00   LED Backlight Development Update
 Dr Jeffy Lay, Research and Development Vice President 
 KENMOS, Taiwan

15:00 Welcome Reception

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

 Registration and Continental Breakfast

Welcome and opening remarks
          Derek Mitchell, Conference Producer

   Welcome and opening remarks from Conference Chair
         Dr. Anthony Choi, Assistant Professor

Session 1: Market and Industry Overview

   LED Global Market Forecast, from 2007 – 2012
             •  LEDs used in SSL illumination 
             •  High brightness LEDs (mobile devices, automotive/vehicle, other)
             •  LEDs used in signage and professional displays
             •  LEDs used in test/measurement & medical science applications
         Stephen Montgomery, President,

8:40   ENERGY STAR Lighting: Keeping Pace with New Technologies and Performance    Improvements

             •  ENERGY STAR product labelling program: history, goals, scope and influence with consumers
             •  Overview of ENERGY STAR lighting programs
             •  Incorporation of solid state lighting and other new technologies
             •  How to get involved with ENERGY STAR
        Alex Baker, ENERGY STAR Lighting Program Manager

  Recent LED Technology Advances in ASTRI
             •  Introduction of ASTRI
             •  LED chip and packaging development
             •  LED application technologies for display
             •  LED application technologies for general lighting
       Dr Enboa Wu, Vice President and Group Director

Session 2: Applications of LEDs: Illumination

9:30   Solid State Lighting: System Quality and Reliability

             •  Introduction
             •  Challenges of SSL
             •  Standards of SSL
             •  Design for quality and reliability
             •  Future
         Dato Yap Peng Hooi, Vice President and Managing Director
         OPTOELECTRONIX, INC., Malaysia

   Morning refreshments and networking break

10:20 LED Lighting Ready for General Illumination

         Tony Van De Ven, Director – Asia Pacific LLS 

10:45 Fast Adoption of LED in SSL Applications 
             •  LED adoption in SSL application
             •  Successful implementation case study
             •  Associated challenges of the adoption
             •  Future trend in public lighting
         Louis Lam, Vice President, APAC Sales

11:10 Advances in LED Technology for General Lighting
             •  LED technology for general illumination
             •  Factors hindering mass adoption
             •  Latest trends in LED lighting
             •  Advances in LED lighting
             •  Future of intelligent LED lighting
        Dr Majd Zoorob, Chief Technology Officer

11:35 SSL Modules: Moving to Standardized Light Sources

             •  Application-based SSL modules
             •  The value of a module approach for luminaire manufacturers
             •  The value of standardization for lighting
         Grant Harlow, Director of Product Marketing, SSL General Lighting
         PHILIPS LIGHTING, Canada

12:00 Roundtable luncheon

Session 3: Applications of LEDs: Structural and Architectural

13:15 LED Lighting Arts of the Water Cube (Beijing Olympics) and the Expo Axis (Shanghai World Expo 2010)

             •  LED is the best light source for architectural lighting
             •  LED application in the Water Cube (Beijing Olympics 2008)
             •  LED application in the Expo Axis (Shanghai World Expo 2010)
         Dr Daniel Wen, Director of International Business

Session 4: Applications of LEDs: Display Backlighting

13:40  Aggressive Adoption of LED BLU for Large Area TFT LCD and the Present Challenges

             •  Benefits of LED applied in large area TFT LCD by application
             •  Supply chain of LED BLU and its market penetration
             •  Present challenge of large area LED BLU
             •  Review of latest launched TFT LCD with LED BLU
             •  Summary
         Luke Yao, Research Director
         DISPLAYSEARCH, Taiwan

 Afternoon refreshments and networking break

14:30 LED Back Light Unit (BLU) Technology Update
             •  Briefing on notebook LED BLU structure and working principle
             •  Major solutions used for notebook LED BLU in current industry
             •  Major technology issues and comparison between different solutions
             •  Developing trend for NB LED BLU
         Dr Jeffy Lay, Research and Development Vice President 
         KENMOS, Taiwan

Session 5: Advances in Thermal Management

14:55 Understanding Reliability of Thermal Management Substrates for LEDs
             •  Need for thermal management
             •  Failure modes for LED package performance
             •  Material properties to enhance reliability
             •  Bergquist experimental data and models
             •  Conclusions
         Sanjay Misra, Director of Research and Development  

15:20 Enabling New LED Designs Through Innovative Cooling Technology
             •  Thermal management obstacles
             •  Synthetic jet technology
             •  SynJet advantages and reliability
         Jim Balthazar, President and CEO
         NUVENTIX, INC., US

 Networking Reception
 All speakers and delegates are invited to this relaxed and informal reception
 to network and discuss the day’s proceedings

Thursday, April 2, 2009

 Continental breakfast

Session 6: Chip and Technology Advances

8:00   Mid-Conference remarks from the Chair
         Dr. Anthony Choi, Assistant Professor

8:10   Color Quality of White LEDs – Current Performance and Future Trends

             •  Color quality metrics
             •  General lighting color quality needs
             •  White LED color standards
             •  Current performance and future trends
         Srinath Aanegola, LED Innovation Manager
         GE LUMINATION, India 

8:35   LED Standards and Related Policies: A Panel Discussion

             •  Current status of LED industries in China
             •  LED standards and related policies in China and USA
             •  International standards comparison
             •  Industry perspectives on LED standards

   Morning refreshments and networking break

9:50   The World’s First Quantum Dot LEDs 

             •  High quality white LEDs with very high CRI
         Clint Ballinger, CEO

10:15   Remote Plasma Enhanced CVD for Nitride-Based Optoelectronic Device Production
             •  RPCVD – An introduction to the technology
             •  Current status – material characterization and analysis
             •  Deposition equipment and specification
             •  Business model and commercialization plan for BluGlass, Ltd. 
         Conor Martin, Equipment Development Manager
         BLUGLASS, LTD., Australia

Session 7: Advances in LED Manufacture

10:40   Roadmap for LEDs Made for Lighting

             •  The change to SSL is enabled by a new class of LED emitter having 100 lms/watt-dollar
         Trung Tri Doan, Chairman and CEO

11:05   Single Optic Solutions for LED Color Mixing

             •  Existing optical solutions for color mixing reviewed
             •  Problems with current optics for color mixing
             •  New optic designs with improved color mixing
         Bob Householder, Director of R&D, Optical Components Platform

11:30   Progress of LED Chip Production on Larger Diameter Sapphire Wafers

             •  Current status of small diameter wafer production
             •  Drivers for moving to larger diameter LED wafers
             •  Key obstacles and benefits
             •  Timing
for volume production for 4”, 6” and 8” wafers
         Raja Parvez, President and CEO

Roundtable luncheon

13:10   Light Engine Development for Solid State Lighting

             •  High reliability
             •  High brightness
             •  Color and color stability
             •  Single color bin
             •  Lux/W & Lux/$
         Xiantao Yan, Chief Technology Officer
         LedEngin, Inc., US

 Afternoon refreshments and networking break

14:00 The Future of Very High Power and High Performance LED Packages

             •  The future, the design and thermal management of very high power and high performance LED packages
             •  Technical and economic requirements from a point of view of the different and future growing LED applications
             •  Design approaches and solutions for state of the art and future LED packages
             •  Outlook on how PerkinElmer envisions the future requirements of high performance LED packages
         Dr Michael Kramer, Managing Director, LED Solutions
         PERKINELMER, Germany

14:25 LED Luminaire Photometric Testing Procedures in North America
             •  Current standards
             •  How is the testing currently being performed
             •  The future of photometric testing standards
             •  Comparing LED luminaire photometry with conventional luminaire photometry
         Michael Grather, President

14:50 Graded Index Matching Gel for Enhanced Light Extraction in LEDs and External Optics
             •  Development and use of graded index matching gels as LED encapsulants
             •  Theoretical models and empirical testing results
             •  Improving light output with index matching
         John Doherty, Research Chemist

15:15 New Efficient Phosphor for LED

             •  The multiphase green phosphor with two different crystallographic phases, {SrGa2S4} and {MgGa2O4}
             •  High Luminescent Intensity and Color Rendering Index
         Mihail Nazarov, Professor

 End of conference