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OLED (light-emitting diode)

Contributor(s): Kim Dang

Organic LED (light-emitting diode) is a display technology based on the use of an organic substance, typically a polymer, as the semiconductor material in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A polymer can be a natural or synthetic substance and macro or micro in size. Examples of organic polymers include proteins and DNA. OLED technology was pioneered at Kodak, by Dr. Ching W. Tang.

An OLED display is created by sandwiching organic thin films between two conductors. When an electrical current is applied to this structure, it emits a bright light. Because OLED displays don't require backlighting, they can be thinner and weigh less than other display technologies. OLED displays also have a wide viewing angle -- up to 160 degrees even in bright light -- and use only two to ten volts to operate.

OLED displays are used in televisions, laptop and desktop computers, cellular phones, digital video cameras, DVD players, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and car stereos. New technologies that build on the OLED include the FOLED (flexible organic light-emitting display), which promises to bring portable, roll-up displays to the consumer market within the next few years. According to market analysts DisplaySearch, OLED display revenues will grow to $4.5 B by 2011, up from $0.5 B in 2006.


This was last updated in March 2008

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