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Growth Predicted for OLED and Paperlike Displays

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2006
Anne L. Fischer

Organic LED (OLED) and paperlike display technologies are finding opportunities in the display industry, according to a report from NanoMarkets LC, a market research firm based in Glen Allen, Va. The study predicts that the combined sales of the displays will reach $10.2 billion by 2011 and jump to $14.7 billion by 2013.

Published in May, the report, “Next-Generation OLED and Paper-Like Displays: A Technology and Market Roadmap,” indicates that the distinct technologies compete for many of the same segments of the display market. It predicts that they will have long-term opportunities in applications ranging from packaging to mobile electronics to televisions. OLEDs, expected to generate $660 million in 2006, worldwide, are used in low-cost displays, such as MP3 players and cell phones. Paperlike displays are likely to generate only $32 million this year. The study suggests that, by 2013, paperlike displays will generate $2.3 million and OLEDs, $12.3 million.

Table 1:

OLED Technology Providers

Cambridge Display TechnologyCambridge, UK
Eastman KodakRochester, NY
FASwitchCharlotte, NC
MicroEmissive  DisplaysEdinburgh, UK
Next SierraMountain View, CA
NovaledDresden, Germany
Palto Alto ResearchPalto Alto, CA
Plastic LogicCambridge, UK
Toppan PrintingTokyo, Japan
Universal Display Corp. Ewing, NJ
VaritronixHong Kong

Providers of OLED displays have market opportunities in increasing the life of OLEDs, small- to medium-size television displays, specialized drivers/electronics for OLED displays, printed backplanes and low-cost displays for disposable items.

Paperlike displays are a new concept and not yet widely embraced. Also known as electronic paper, or e-paper, they are expected to find applications in signage, on shelving for the display of information, and on packaging for the display of pricing and instructions. In areas such as large signage, they are limited by the lack of color capability. Paperlike displays are already used in portable e-book reading devices and in clocks and other novelties, according to Lawrence Gasman, principal analyst with NanoMarkets. Electronic book readers have yet to gain popularity, and in the signage market, the displays allow for changeable, updateable signs, but potential users, such as supermarkets and hotels, will have to buy into the concept.

OLEDs, on the other hand, are expected to infiltrate the existing LCD market, particularly in the television segment. They offer several advantages over LCDs, including higher energy efficiency and brightness, greater flexibility, lower weight and the capacity for larger displays. Analysts predict that, although as yet untested, paperlike displays will have similar advantages.

Table 2:

E-paper Technology Providers

E InkCambridge, MA
Fujitsu Frontech LimitedTokyo, Japan
HitachiTokyo, Japan
Kent DisplaysKent, OH
Eastman KodakRochester, NY
NemopticMagny les Hameaux, France
NteraWest Conshohocken, PA
SiPixFremont, CA
XeroxStamford, CT

The paperlike display market has yet to home in on one type of technology. Currently, there are opportunities in improved color paperlike, fully flexible, low-cost paperlike and self-edge displays, and other labeling applications.



According to the report, both display technologies face challenges. One problem is with the substrates. To make truly flexible OLEDs and paperlike displays, flexible substrates must withstand manufacturing processes. Gasman said that, developing better substrates requires changes in processes rather than in materials. For example, the use of lasers for curing ink helps to focus the heat, so less is used over a shorter period.

The lack of technical expertise in printing for displays is another challenge. Gasman indicated that manufacturers are still unsure which printing process works best with displays. They must develop a sense of what works and what doesn’t, he said.

Another stumbling block is the low durability of blue OLEDs, which are essential for full-color displays. And, finally, there is a need for cost-effective conductive inks that can help produce large, high-resolution displays with long lifetimes.

Advertising and Signage

2006

2011

2013

OLED

0

226.1

383

Paper

25

1493.6

1466.6


Computing

2006

2011

2013

OLED

0

246.4

473.8

Paper

0

13.1

31.5


Television

2006

2011

2013

OLED

0

2176.20

4562.50

Paper

0

0

0


Cell Phones, MP3 Players and Other Handheld Devices

2006

2011

2013

OLED

654

5395

6804.4

Paper

3.6

323.5

601.6


Other Applications

2006

2011

2013

OLED

6.3

65.6

125.5

Paper

3.4

219.6

252


This summary of forecasts of OLED and paperlike displays (in millions of dollars) shows a bright future in most applications for OLEDs and strong growth for paperlike displays in advertising and signage through the year 2013.

The report lists the key players among materials firms and provides insight into their technical and business strengths and challenges (Table 1). It also lists key technology providers of OLEDs and backplanes as well as of paperlike displays (Table 2). Included are details about business transactions and technology transfers that will affect product development. For example, Kent Displays, a spin-off from Kent State University, both in Ohio, uses a liquid crystal approach to paperlike displays. Its technology is licensed to several firms, including Matsushita (Panasonic) of Osaka, Japan, which has used it in a prototype of a color book reader.

Activities of businesses such as Universal Display Corp. of Ewing, N.J., are detailed. A producer of OLEDs for flat panel displays, the small public company has partnered with DuPont, Samsung, Sony and Toyota. It recently won a Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop OLED displays on a metal foil substrate and has reported performance improvements with both blue and white OLEDs.

The study presents forecasts for the technologies in advertising and signage, computing, television, cell phones, handheld instruments and other applications. It suggests that rapid growth for both technologies will begin in 2008.

Additional information about the report can be found at www.nanomarkets.net.



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