Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Flexolighting project announces it has achieved >90% reduction in OLED lighting production costs

If all of the processes, materials and components developed during the Flexolighting project were to be adopted, a cost saving of over 90% would be possible

Flexolighting EU Project - Cost per m2 reduction

18 Sep 2018 | Editor

The three-year Flexolighting project – led by Brunel University London and a consortium of partners including Marks & Spencer, Tata Steel and AIXTRON SE – revealed that by introducing novel manufacturing techniques and rethinking the complete supply chain, it is possible to reduce the cost of producing thin, high-efficiency OLED lighting panels to a similar level to that of traditional LEDs.

The Flexolighting project has now concluded - it ran between January 2015 until to March 2018. The project received Euro 4.4m from the EU's Horizon 2020 fund, the project consortium set the ambitious challenge of reducing the cost of producing OLEDs down to around Euro 1 per 100 lumens – from their current position of around Euro 15 per 100 lumens.

According to the announcement if all of the processes, materials and components developed during the Flexolighting project were to be adopted, a cost saving of over 90% would be possible.

More specifically, by introducing a number of innovative new techniques, such as printing some of the OLED's layers onto flexible steel rather than the more traditional glass, and using a newly developed light extraction film to double the OLED's illumination, the consortium achieved a potential cost of Euro 1.20 per 100 lumens – a 92% reduction in cost.

It's hoped that the new research, which will be made available to European manufacturers, will help the commercialisation of a new era of low-cost, high-efficiency lighting products.

OLEDs – organic light-emitting diodes – have long been touted as the future of lighting and display panels but until now the cost of production has scuppered mass adoption.

"Flexolighting essentially deconstructed the OLED panel and re-imagined it as a series of individual elements that together can be repackaged to realise cost-effective, environmentally-less harmful, and beautifully designed lighting solutions."

"We've pushed the state-of-the-art to achieve world firsts in processing technologies, used novel materials such as planarised flexible steel and developed transparent top contacts with metallic films."

"We also proved thin film encapsulation, and showed how effective light extraction can be."

"The result is a highly innovative concept. By breaking away from existing limitations, we now no longer need to rely on glass substrates and glass encapsulation – we can turn the OLED upside down, maintain conductivity with alternative anodes and cathodes, process the device in a new way and protect it with a thin film."

"The end product is one that can be formed into an infinite number of design choices, and it was all made possible with European expertise and know-how."

"Flexolighting is a very compelling proposition, and one that, thanks to the commercial success of OLED displays in the consumer electronics sector, is very easy to envisage becoming commercially fruitful in its own right."

Professor Poopathy Kathirgamanathan, Chair Professor in Electronic Materials Engineering at Brunel

Flexolighting Project

The flexolighting programme is focussed on research and innovations on materials, processes and device technology for OLED lighting with the intention of building a supply chain within Europe. The aim is to realise OLED devices over a large area/surface with high brightness, high uniformity and long life time. A demonstrator will be built and delivered at the end of the project.

The main targets are

(i). Cost of the lighting panels should be less than Euro 1 per 100 lumens.

(II). high luminous efficiency, in excess of 100 lm/W with improved out-coupling efficiency.

(ii). white light life-time of at least 1,000 hours at 97% of the original luminance of 5,000 cdm-2.

(iii). The materials and the devices therefrom will allow for differential aging of the colours, thus maintaining the same colour co-ordinates and CRI over its use.

(iv). Attention will be paid to recyclability and environmental impact of the materials and the OLED lighting systems. Flexolighting project will also ensure European industrial leadership in lighting.

The introduction of OLED Lighting technology is held back by the current cost of the systems, life-time and poor uniformity of luminance on large area panels. The programme aims to combine existing state of the art OLED materials technology (Thermally activated fluorescent materials (TADF) and phosphorescent emitters and world class transport materials) with new developments in processing technologies (Organic Vapour Phase Deposition (OVPD) and printing technologies) to develop new next of generation low cost OLED lighting systems to move forward to scale up and full scale production on novel planarized flexible steel substrates with cost effective conformal encapsulation method. The transparent top contacts made of thin metallic films, conducting polymers or graphene monolayer with metal tracks to reduce the series resistance will be employed in inverted top emitting OLED structures to deliver 100 lumens per Euro.


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