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OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode – thin and flat layers of organic molecules that emits light in response to an electrical current. Unlike other forms of lighting (LED, incandescent, etc.) OLEDs function without the presence of a backlight. Instead, the organic semi-conductor is placed between two electrodes (an anode and a cathode), encased by two glass plates. When given an electric current, the organic material produces a bright, “electro-luminescent” light. Pretty neat, huh?
Traditionally, this technology has been used in TVs, computer monitors, smartphones and other high-end devices, but because they are so thin and lightweight, OLEDs are now being embedded into products for everyday use. Once considered to be lacking in terms of durability and battery life, as well as having high production costs, the naysayers are starting to realize that OLEDs are indeed the future of lighting.
Differences and Benefits
Would you touch a light bulb that’s been on for hours? Would you try to bend an LED? Could you stare directly into fluorescent lights for more than 3 consecutive minutes? With traditional forms of lighting, the answer to all of those questions would be no (at least we’d hope not).
OLEDs are different. Unlike the lights mentioned above OLEDs are:
- Efficient: OLEDs require far less voltage than other forms of lighting. Moreover, they are cool to the touch regardless of how long they’ve been on. Remember the absence of the backlight we mentioned earlier? Not only does that make OLEDs brighter, it also makes them consume less power – increasing battery life by up to 40% when compared to other lighting sources.
Eco-friendly: The organic aspect of OLEDs is a true differentiator. OLEDs are produced without the use of any hazardous materials, like Mercury for instance, greatly reducing their environmental impact. In some instances, OLEDs can function without UV emissions as well. Simply put, they are the most eco-friendly form if lighting on the planet.
Ultra-thin, Transparent: OLEDs have the ability to be produced in such a way that they can bend without breaking – making them extremely durable (this is even true of those that aren’t designed to be flexible). Because the OLED panels are so thin, they chances of them “breaking” for normal use is almost non-existent. The other obvious difference between OLEDs and other forms of lighting is their transparency – the organic film is able to pass light pass in opposite directions..