What Are the Different Uses of Organic Light Emitting Diodes?

Benjamin Arie

Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are variations of standard light emitting diodes (LEDs) that use organic compounds in place of artificial layers. OLEDs are not as prevalent as normal LEDs, but have the potential to cost significantly less than some older LED technology. There are many uses for organic light emitting diodes, including uses in television and mobile phone screens, portable electronics, and home lighting.

Many tablets utilize organic light emitting diodes.
Many tablets utilize organic light emitting diodes.

Most OLEDs have two layers of organic material. These are called emissive and conducting layers to which a cathode and an anode are attached. When current is applied, electrons move from the cathode through the organic layers and out of the anode. This produces visible light as electrons pass through.

Organic light emitting diodes can be used in television and mobile phone screens.
Organic light emitting diodes can be used in television and mobile phone screens.

Television screens are one of the most common uses of organic light emitting diodes. These screens are extremely thin in comparison to other types of displays. This can allow televisions to fit unobtrusively in locations where traditional screens may be too bulky. OLED televisions are also able to refresh thousands of times faster than normal LED TVs. The high refresh rate featured in these televisions makes them ideal for viewing action such as what may be seen in sports and in movies.

Many mobile phones and tablet devices also use organic light emitting diodes. Displays used in these devices have very high contrast ratios,a major advantage for electronics that are often used outdoors in direct sunlight. OLED displays typically consume less power than other types of screens. This feature allows battery-powered phones and other mobile electronics to last longer on a single charge.

OLEDs can also be used for home lighting. Panels can be combined to create walls or tiles that emit white light for reading and other everyday functions. These lighting panels are often more energy efficient than other illumination methods. This type of lighting can also be adjusted to a desired brightness or a specific color. Some organic light emitting diodes are transparent, making it possible to create clear windows that also produce artificial light.

Some of the uses for organic light emitting diodes are still in development, but have great potential in the future. Researchers are testing OLEDs for advanced portable electronics that are much less expensive and fragile than traditional units. The organic layers within OLEDs allow them to bend without breaking. New devices can be rolled and unrolled like a newspaper while displaying interactive content from the Internet or other sources.

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Discussion Comments


@pastanaga - I've been following this as well, and they have already managed to make some of the OLEDs last much long than a regular light emitting diode.

Unfortunately, they haven't managed to do it with blue OLEDs yet, so they still burn out quicker. I imagine possibly because blue light uses more power or something? I'm just guessing though.

But, people are definitely pursing this research and I think they'll probably have the technology up to scratch within a few years time.


@umbra21 - The problem with organic light emitting devices at the moment is that, not only are they really expensive to make, they also don't really last all that long.

You can already get them in TVs and things, but I'm not sure I would lay out the cash for them. It's one thing to get the latest, up to date technology if you know it's going to last a good while. But I've heard that they only last for about five years or so before you need to replace them. That means you can't even resell them later on to recoup if you are planning to just keep getting the latest thing.

Plus it seems wasteful to me. I'm going to wait until they really have the technology sorted out before I invest any money into it.


It is amazing how flexible a screen can be when it uses organic light emitting diodes instead of traditional forms of back lighting.

If you want to, you can see videos of it on youtube. They can basically roll screens with these kinds of lights into tubes and still have them displaying a picture.

This is the kind of thing that will eventually be put into clothes and even wallpaper, so that you can just press a few buttons and change the color or design of what you have around you.

I think it's pretty amazing. I hope they really start making it more cheap and accessible in the next few years, so that I can take advantage of OLED technology!

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