Philips unveils world's first mains-powered OLED module

Paul Boughton
Scientists from Philips Research claim to have developed the first organic light emitting diode (OLED) module that can be powered directly from a mains electricity supply. The prototype opens the door to OLED systems that can be directly plugged into standard power outlets without the need for bulky power management circuitry. This will reduce the bill of materials and simplify luminaire design for future OLED-based systems aimed at mass-market general illumination applications.
Like LEDs, OLEDs are solid-state lighting devices that are extremely efficient light emitters –thereby helping to reduce the financial and environmental costs of lighting. Next to LEDs offering very high brightness in a compact shape, OLEDs emit light over an extended area. The illumination they produce is 'calm,' glowing, diffuse and non-glaring. The thin, flat nature of OLEDs makes it possible to create light sources in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
Moreover, OLEDs are fully dimmable and can produce many different colours as well as whites, including the type of white light that people are used to from traditional light sources. This makes them an extremely attractive option for general illumination.
However, until now, the physical characteristics of OLEDs have meant they have had to be powered from low-voltage direct current (DC) sources. In contrast, the AC-powered white-light module developed by Philips Research can be plugged directly into a mains wall socket.
Dr Dirk Hente of Philips Research comments: "We have combined proprietary interconnect and packaging technology to create this demonstrator. We are already seeing AC-driven LEDs coming onto the market. Our prototype marks a breakthrough step towards a similar evolution in OLEDs."
Eliminating the need for driver electronics could bring many advantages for luminaire manufacturers. Because it reduces the number of components in a finished system, it makes system integration and assembly simpler, improves product reliability and enables faster time-to-market. Moreover, it increases design freedom and expands the range of potential OLED applications.
Philips began researching OLEDs in 1991. Today, Philips Lighting describes itself as a leader in the industrialisation and commercialisation of OLED lighting technology, with its Lumiblade family of products. This latest breakthrough is an important step forward in supporting Lumiblade systems that will enhance people's lives with light.
Philips Research has developed its AC-powered module in collaboration with Dipl.-Phys Holger Spahr, of the Institut fur Hochfrequenztechnik, TUBraunschweig, Germany, as part of the TOPAS 2012 project. This project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), brings together leading industrial and academic organisations to develop OLEDs for lighting systems of the future.
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