Thorn Lighting in Spennymoor, County Durham, UK is leading a project to develop organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials and efficient device structures for large area lighting applications. Partners in the project are the University of Durham (Photonics Materials Institute) and Cambridge Display Technology (CDT), with the Department of Trade and Industry providing a maximum funding of £1.6m over three years. Total initial funding amounts to £3.3m.
Under the terms of the grant, CDT through its Sumation joint venture will provide significant knowledge and experience in the field of light emitting conjugated polymers as well as delivering polymer-based OLED materials, device architectures and testing, Durham University has developed one of the most important academic alliances between physicists and chemists in Europe, they have unique facilities for studying energy transfer mechanisms in both polymer materials and device structures.
Dr. Geoff Williams, OLED Group Leader of Thorn, told IDTechEx, "The materials we are hoping to develop will give high lumen packages, be highly efficient white light emitters which will replace general purpose white lighting. The emitted white light will approach natural daylight quality, without the UV or IR spectral components. Reproducibility and manufacturing repeatability will be evaluated as part of the project and the team have access to the voice of the customer, thus ensuring the most appropriate material and device development is conducted."
"Wafer thin OLED panels are one of the key technologies touted to displace conventional general-purpose light sources, such as fluorescent lamps and incandescent lighting. OLEDs offer the potential for large area white lighting. The materials can be printed onto either solid or flexible glass or plastic substrates and offer long life (20,000 hours), reduced energy consumption and reduced waste (1kg of material has the potential to coat up to 10,000,000m² of lighting area). Electrical efficiency should be close to fluorescent tubes. The target is 50 lumens per watt in four to five years, with a colour rendering index (CRI) better than standard fluorescent lamps," said Williams.
"The eventual target is 150-200 lm per W. In 2015 we will be near this level and by 2020 OLED lighting will be the first choice," he adds. Williams concluded by saying "The challenge does not only exist for the materials and devices but the Thorn team will strive to design new 6 sigma manufacturing and quality control processes capable for this emerging technology".
In order to foster the innovative role within the market, Thorn's parent company, the Zumtobel Group, follows a strategy including both LED devices, organic and inorganic. While the two start-up companies of the Group, Ledon and Lexedis, are focussing on inorganic LED technology, the R & D activities concerning organics are currently centralised in the UK OLED project. Andreas J Ludwig, CEO of the Zumtobel Group, emphasises the importance of the tripartite project: "The long term expectation for professional lighting must incorporate organic and inorganic devices. Securing this UK Government grant for the development and commercialisation of OLEDs further expands our opportunities in Solid State Lighting. As a result, we are now strongly positioned in this challenging area of technology with substantial long-term potential."
The project will allow Thorn to challenge traditional lighting philosophies, whilst pointing the way towards environmentally friendly artificial lighting based on low voltage DC devices and sustainable renewable energy sources.
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