Electronic Design

Alliances Brighten Future For OLED Displays

A number of strategic partnerships in the display industry are working to bring organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays to the forefront. These devices already are attractive in portable applications because of their wide viewing angle, daylight visibility, high image quality, low power consumption, and light weight. By combining their engineering and manufacturing know-how, display developers hope to realize the promise of OLED technology in both direct-view and virtual-imaging applications.

In an effort to accomplish this, Dupont Displays of Wilmington, Del., recently acquired Uniax Corp. of Santa Barbara, Calif. Through this purchase, DuPont gains the technology needed to produce OLED displays on flexible plastic. Uniax, a pioneer in polymer-OLED displays, holds the intellectual property for the manufacture of these devices. DuPont possesses knowledge of flexible substrates, barrier coatings, roll-to-roll manufacturing, and other areas related to display fabrication.

By developing all-plastic displays, the two companies expect to create a lighter, brighter, and less-expensive alternative to LCD displays in wireless products. According to Nick Colaneri, director of new technology at Uniax, "OLED displays are predicted to have a lower manufacturing cost in high-volume production than that of LCD displays with comparable information content."

The commercialization of OLED microdisplay technology on silicon chips is the prime goal of an alliance between OLED-material developer Covion Organic Semiconductors GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany, and virtual-imaging-technology manufacturer eMagin Corp., Hopewell Junction, N.Y. If successful, the alliance will open the door for many new product applications.

Under the agreement's terms, Covion will provide eMagin with newly developed OLED materials. These will be evaluated for use in eMagin's current and future microdisplay applications. Such uses include wearable computers, entertainment headsets, handheld portable Internet appliances, and telecommunications devices. For its part, eMagin will supply prototype displays to Covion, who will use them for demonstration purposes.

Covion's new technology is desirable because it can operate at projection-compatible luminance levels with high efficiency. It also provides the temperature stability required in advanced applications, as well as a large field of view. The technology, then, is ideal for optical magnification resulting in large virtual images of either data or video.

In addition to its alliance with Covion, eMagin is partnering with IBM of East Fishkill, N.Y. to further develop OLED-on-silicon technology. Their work will have potential uses in advanced display-based applications.

Other partnerships are helping to build a manufacturing infrastructure for the display industry. Holding the fundamental patents on OLEDs, Eastman Kodak Co. of Rochester, N.Y., is teaming up with Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Ulvac Japan Ltd. to create OLED manufacturing equipment. The companies will develop display encapsulation and packaging devices, equipment subsystems for color pixilation, equipment for larger glass substrates, and turnkey production systems. They also hope to maximize manufacturing productivity while standardizing equipment and processes.

For more on DuPont Displays' acquisition of Uniax, see www.uniax.com. Further information about Covion and eMagin can be found at www.covion.com and www.emagincorp.com. To learn more about developments at Eastman Kodak, visit www.kodak.com.

TAGS: Components
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