These days, technology evolves fast. But even though we accept this, new products can still surprise us. The latest LED developments are no exception. Take organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), for example. These can give high quality images on monitors and TV screens. They also provide the illumination for low energy lighting panels.
Organic compounds are the main component of OLEDs. The compounds contain carbon, which appears in its purest form as either graphite or diamonds. Carbon molecules are also in coal, soot and charcoal.
In a basic OLED unit, organic compounds lie between two materials able to carry electricity. The materials are electrodes known as an anode and a cathode, one of which is transparent. When electricity passes through the OLED’s electrodes, the organic compound emits light.
Scientists have experimented with OLEDs for more than five decades. In the last 10 years, the technology industry has taken an interest. The result is an increasing number of OLED screens for TVs, computers, MP3 players and mobile phones.
The advantages of OLEDs are various:
- OLEDs screens are thin. Some prototypes are thinner than a sheet of paper.
- Unlike LCD (liquid crystal display) screens, OLED screens don’t need backlights. As a result, they use less energy.
- The absence of backlights gives OLED screens two further benefits: they produce sharper colours and have a wider viewing angle than LCD equivalents.
- OLEDs react quickly to colour changes. Fast-moving images on an OLED screen are never blurred.
- Manufacturers can print OLEDs on flexible sheets. They can bend these sheets to suit different products, and fold them to save space.
OLEDs are now being used for lighting. OLED lighting panels are low energy and mercury-free. They emit a bright light ideal for many commercial and residential uses.
The price of the panels is currently high because companies make them in small quantities. But mass production techniques mean OLED lighting is set to become a cost-efficient option for us all.