Flexible OLED prototype points way to mass production

October 04, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
OLED materials research company Cynora GmbH (Karlsruhe, Germany) claims it has reached the home stretch for the production of flexible organic light emitting diodes. The company has demonstrated a prototype of its flexible lighting foil which could be used for intelligent packaging solutions.

Cynora has developed a low-cost emitter, which is used in the prototype. The company says it believes that there is a huge potential for flexible OLEDs. One key aspect that sets organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) apart from conventional LEDs, is that they are two-dimensional light sources. In addition, they are extremely thin. This property makes them ideally suited for lighting systems and flat screen displays. So far, however, OLEDs have only been used in rigid form in these application areas. Cynora's prototype, developed in the scope of the cyFlex project, represents a major milestone in the development and use of flexible components, opening new application fields, the company says. “The potential of flexible foil-like OLEDs has so far remained untapped,” says Thomas Baumann, one of Cynora's two CEOs.

The major part of Cynora’s prototype is made from a liquid solution. The company did not elaborate on the specific materials used in the prototype. Solution-based manufacturing is particularly suitable for mass production because it enables substrates to be coated with thin light-emitting elements quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively using printing processes. “Using solution processing to produce components instead of conventional vapor deposition is a prerequisite for bringing production costs down to a level where flexible OLEDs are viable for mass-market applications,” explains Tobias Grab, the other Cynora CEO. The company's emitters used are based on readily available copper precursors, which in itself further support the material’s suitability for mass production.