OLED technology flexes its muscles

New flat panel display technology set to take market by storm

By Philippa Martin-King

At this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, a display technology that drew particular attention was OLED (organic light emitting diode). It currently represents only a tiny proportion of flat panels, used mainly in smartphones and tablet computers, but this is set to change dramatically, as it is now ready to compete in the computer and TV markets. A new IEC International Standard specifies measuring methods of visual quality and ambient performance for OLED display modules and panels.

Green OLED module
Green OLED module

Bright and wide

OLED displays can provide high contrast ratio, fast-response time, wide colour gamut, and a wide viewing angle while operating with low power consumption. In addition, OLED technology enables the production of thin devices that can be both flexible and transparent. This makes OLED displays ideal for mobile devices. Large-scale production of AMOLED (active matrix OLED) displays helped drive high-volume sales of certain models of smartphones (see article on OLED technology in thise-tech).

OLED technology, initially limited to small screens, made great progress in 2011 and is now expected to be introduced in computer monitors and TV sets. The first large (55 inch) market-ready TVs were unveiled at the 2012 CES.

OLED display revenues are estimated to be around USD4 billion in 2011 (about 4% of flat panel display revenues) and are forecast to exceed USD 20 billion (approximately 16% of the total display sector) by 2018.

Expansion made possible by standards

This expansion of the OLED industry is made possible in no small part by the work of TC (Technical Committee) 110: Electronic display devices (see article on TC 110 in this e-tech). TC 110 recently published a new International Standard, IEC 62341-6-2OLED displays – Measuring methods of visual quality and ambient performance. This International Standard, the fifth in the 62341 series, is mainly applicable to colour display modules.

Comprehensive measurements

The document "specifies the standard measurement conditions and methods for determining the visual quality and ambient performance of OLED display modules and panels". It describes the environmental and lighting conditions (dark-room and ambient-illumination). It also lists the requirements for human visual inspection of static images for different types of visible defects, stressing that "human visual inspection and comparison against limit samples remains the most universal system for grading and classification of visual defects".

To illustrate the various issues, this International Standard gives sample images of visible defects and various diagrams and figures, such as an example of visual inspection room setup for control of ambient room lighting and reflections.

This International Standard, like others in the same series, will help manufacturers of OLED modules and displays produce high-quality products and will represent a guarantee for consumers of devices with OLED displays.

Green OLED module Green OLED module
OLED are widely available on portable devices (Photo: Samsung) OLED are widely available on portable devices (Photo: Samsung)
Flexible OLEDs will be found in many devices in the near future Flexible OLEDs will be found in many devices in the near future