Sony 11" OLED
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An organic light-emitting diode (OLED), also Light Emitting Polymer (LEP) and Organic Electro-Luminescence (OEL), is any light-emitting diode (LED) whose emissive electroluminescent layer is comprised of a film of organic compounds. The layer usually contains a polymer substance that allows suitable organic compounds to be deposited. They are deposited in rows and columns onto a flat carrier by a simple "printing" process. The resulting matrix of pixels can emit light of different colors.
Such systems can be used in television screens, computer displays, portable system screens, advertising, information and indication. OLEDs can also be used in light sources for general space illumination, and large-area light-emitting elements. OLEDs typically emit less light per area than inorganic solid-state based LEDs which are usually designed for use as point-light sources.
A great benefit of OLED displays over traditional liquid crystal displays (LCDs) is that OLEDs do not require a backlight to function. Thus they draw far less power and, when powered from a battery, can operate longer on the same charge. OLED-based display devices also can be more effectively manufactured than LCDs and plasma displays. But degradation of OLED materials has limited the use of these materials.
Bernanose and co-workers first produced electroluminescence in organic materials in the early 1950s by applying a high-voltage alternating current (AC) field to crystalline thin films of acridine orange and quinacrine. In 1960, researchers at Dow Chemical developed AC-driven electroluminescent cells using doped anthracene.
The low electrical conductivity of such materials limited light output until more conductive organic materials became available, especially the polyacetylene, polypyrrole, and polyaniline "Blacks". In a 1963 series of papers, Weiss et al. first reported high conductivity in iodine-doped oxidized polypyrrole. They achieved a conductivity of 1 S/cm. Unfortunately, this discovery was "lost", as was a 1974 report of a melanin-based bistable switch with a high conductivity "ON" state. This material emitted a flash of light when it switched.
In a subsequent 1977 paper, Shirakawa et al. reported high conductivity in similarly oxidized and iodine-doped polyacetylene. Heeger, MacDiarmid & Shirakawa received the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "The discovery and development of conductive organic polymers". The Nobel citation made no reference to the earlier discoveries.
Modern work with electroluminescence in such polymers culminated with Burroughs et al. 1990 paper in the journal Nature reporting a very-high-efficiency green-light-emitting polymer. The OLED timeline since 1996 is well documented on oled-info.com site.