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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Previous projects > New Products and Materials > Polymer-based LED displays lead the way
Graphic element Polymer-based LED displays lead the way
     
 
Advanced electronics and telecommunications devices are at the forefront of today's booming high-tech economy, and no one can have failed to notice the mad dash towards miniaturisation now going on in industrial and consumer telephony, informatics and video applications sectors. Leading the way is the BRITE-EURAM 'POLYLED' project, developing materials and processes for the large-scale manufacturing of ultra-thin polylmer light-emitting diode (polyLED) colour displays. Production is simple and inexpensive and partners say their new polyLEDs could be the first in a whole new generation of ultra-thin displays, promising enormous benefits, both economic and practical. Philips has set up a business unit and is producing a variety of models aimed at different end users.
 

In the rush towards 'small and compact', thin displays with excellent visibility are in big demand for a wide range of industrial and consumer applications, including in the automotive, aeronautics, telecommunications and multimedia sectors. Prior to this study, a number of polymeric materials had been shown to be suitable candidates for use as organic semiconducting materials in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Polymer materials are light and flexible and could allow the design of completely new LED-displays with large electroluminescent areas. Improvements were still necessary, however, before large scale manufacturing requirements could be met.

Highly sought-after technology

The POLYLED project was carried out by a highly complimentary and multi-disciplinary consortium, bringing together two excellent polymer research institutes, the Limburgs Universitair Centrum and the Max Planck Institute for polymer research, as well as Philips, the major electronics company, and Hoechst, an important chemical company. Their objective was to develop appropriate materials and an industrial-scale manufacturing process for a new and better polymer-based LED display.
Partners successfully defined an applicable range of polymers using well-documented synthesis and characterisation methods. In addition, a standard device geometry and a system for testing the new devices were designed and implemented, allowing the direct comparison of materials and processes.
Controlled procedures were set up for fabricating electroluminescent devices on a large scale, either as single pixels or in a display as an array of pixels, and their characterisation, both optical and electronic. Special effects were also observed, including polarised emission from devices with oriented polymer layers. New models were generated and various demonstrator devices were produced, including a 5x7 cm display and displays in various colours. The supporting electronics for these devices were also developed.
The new devices are extremely thin at less than 1mm thick and have no viewing angle dependence. They emit light in all the colours of the rainbow and operate at very low voltage, between 3 and 4 volts, with high brightness. Finally, the production technology is simple and cheap.

From laboratory to market

POLYLED's approach represented a radical departure from conventional LED design and the results have confirmed their devices as a groundbreaking new range of high-performance ultra-thin, lightweight, flat and flexible display types, representing enormous potential benefits for producers and users alike.
Philips has now set-up a new business unit in Heerlen, near Maastricht in the Netherlands, for the development, manufacture and sale of several polyLED models aimed at a variety of end-users in areas including domestic and industrial appliances, electrical, audio-visual and telecommunications equipment and automobile dashboards. The company expects economic gains in the order of 265 million euro over the first five years following the end of the project. The new production line is now up and running and carrying out trial operations. First sales are expected this year, and after a two-year pilot operation, a full-scale production unit will start operating with an increased production capacity.
Aventis Research and Technologies is a member of Hoechst Group and the beneficiary of its parent company's extensive know-how in display component production. Aventis has now launched a joint venture with Zeneca Specialitiea, called Covion, to provide the new organic semiconductor materials to display, electronics and optoelectronics industries. Covion will be the components supplier for Philips. The anticipated sales of Covion components to Philips alone have been estimated at 65.5 million euro in the first five years following the completion of the project.

Cordis RCN: 34526
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