Amazing OLEDs could challenge LCDs
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), a revolutionary new technology being applied to the production of commercial flat-panel displays, took center stage at last month’s Society for Information Display conference and exhibition (SID 2002), held in Boston from May 20 to 24. Toshiba impressed showgoers by unveiling a full-color, 17-in. OLED display that is not only brighter and easier to read than today’s active-matrix LCDs, but also no thicker than several sheets of paper. Some observers predict OLEDs could overtake LCDs as the industry-standard technology for commercial display production in the next decade or so. The first applications of OLEDs will be in cellphones and handheld personal digital assistants starting as early as next year. The drawbacks of OLEDs are that the diodes have short lifetimes (prototype displays last less than 1,000 hr), are expensive to produce and have high power-consumption requirements. More than 50 companies have R&D programs under way, and experts believe it is only a matter of time before researchers find ways of making the displays last longer and use less power. Once OLEDs enter mass production, production costs are expected to fall dramatically.