OLED's blue boost: Cheaper, brighter and more frugal

Nanosys may be looking to give LCD displays punchier colors with new backlighting technology, but OLED isn't going to let itself be marginalized easily. Researchers at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), have come up with a new blue OLED with efficiency double that of the maximum theoretic limit, Physorg reports. Addressing one of the main drawbacks of OLED – the short-lived and visually underwhelming blue emitters – the new discovery could make for more lifelike colors on panels that last longer, use less power and are cheaper.

"One of the reasons why current OLED displays are not as popular as LCD and LED displays is that the blue emitters have short lifetime and poor colour quality ... With our breakthrough, OLED TVs could well be the next wave in consumer displays and may soon appear in your homes." Dr Chen Zhikuan, IMRE Senior Scientist

OLED panels either use phosphorescent or fluorescent materials, each of which has traditionally had its advantages and drawbacks. Phosphorescent materials are more efficient but don't last as long, and the blue color quality is reduced. In contrast, fluorescent materials last longer and are more stable, but have traditionally been less efficient.

This new research, however, shows fluorescent blue OLED can reach 9.4-percent efficiency, almost double the previously believed theoretical limit, 5-percent, for the technology. In addition, production should be straightforward as the new materials are solution-processable.

No word on when we could expect to see commercial products based on the new OLED technology reach the market.