OLEDs poised to shake up automotive market

Article By : Carolyn Mathas

Power, cost, safety efficiency and style are encapsulation method breakthroughs that may drive OLEDs to the realm of the automotive business.

Prospects of organic LEDs to invade vehicle lighting and the automotive industry as a whole, has become brighter based on developments on OLED technology and the manufacturers’ enthusiasm towards OLEDs’ advantages.

Now that LEDs are standard equipment, OLEDs can shake things up. OLEDs can be used as signal lights, taillights and for interior lighting, providing a homogeneous light surface that is energy efficient and sufficiently rugged.

Research firm NanoMarkets forecasts that commercialisation of automotive OLED technology will be achieved on a larger scale. The auto industry typically adopts technology in its high-end vehicles before it filters down to the masses. Although lead times have continued to shrink within the industry, they are still somewhat substantial. OLED technology may provide sufficient cost, safety and style benefits for earlier automotive adoption. OLED panels provide comfort, take up less trunk space and are more visible to cars and pedestrians when compared to their competition, so they add safety.

Where they do shine in terms of cost is in the elimination of specialised optics that LEDs often require. This adds to the weight reduction and improved fuel efficiency, albeit only slightly. OLEDs do consume less power, which will be an important factor in their adoption rate.

So, what’s the roadmap? We will most likely see such manufacturers as BMW, Audi and Volkswagen that have already showcased possibilities for OLED use, adopt within the next few years.

NanoMarkets call out such OLED lighting challenges as the ability to achieve high levels of reliability and thermal stability under the typical application conditions. They indicate that encapsulation methods are improving and expect exterior OLED lighting to be deployed at a relatively slow pace. Internal lighting that meets functional and aesthetic needs will gain traction first. One of the last technical difficulties was temperature resistance. Osram, however, has increased temperature resistance significantly for smoother long-term use. Lighting will continue to differentiate manufacturers and OLEDs will likely shake up the automotive marketplace significantly, and in a limited timeframe.

First published by EDN.

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