OLEDs light the way for efficiency

Energy-efficient flat-screen televisions, mobile-phone displays and lighting could be less expensive to manufacture with a new technology developed by academics at Hull University.

Professors Steve Kelly and Mary O’Neill are commercialising new materials and a more cost-effective method for manufacturing organic light emitting diode (OLED) screen displays and other devices.

A company called Polar OLED, which was formed with funds from venture capitalist IP Group, will sell the technology.

Unlike existing flat-screen displays, which need a backlight, OLED pixels radiate light — making them more energy efficient.

OLED TVs are commercially available, but are being sold in low volume and their price is comparatively high.

Kelly explained the materials developed at Hull — called liquid crystalline polymer networks —are different to the OLED materials used by Sony and Kodak, which are among others developing OLED screens.

‘Their approach uses small molecules, which means that they’re usually deposited by vacuum sublimation or physical vapour deposition techniques, which is a real problem for large-scale manufacture,’ he said. ‘The advantage of our materials is they can be deposited by solution.’

He added that the Polar OLED materials can be deposited onto glass or plastic substrates, which differs to other OLED materials, which are limited to glass substrates.

Kelly said Polar OLED is still currently looking for additional investment to improve the performance of the technology for commercial uptake. The goal, he said, is to license the technology to display manufacturers and possibly sell components.

Siobhan Wagner