TOKYO AND NEW YORK—Konica Minolta Holdings Inc., Konica Minolta Technology Center Inc. (collectively KM) and the General Electric Co. announced that they have signed a strategic alliance agreement to accelerate the development and commercialization of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) devices for lighting applications. The goal is to bring OLED lighting to market within the next three years.
“Having such unprecedented attractive features as flexible, thin, lightweight, and sheet form OLED lighting is considered one of the most promising new business opportunities for us in the future,” says Masatoshi Matsuzaki, President, Konica Minolta Technology Center Inc. “We are delighted to collaborate with GE to accelerate the development and launching of this revolutionary new lighting technology.”
“The alliance of KM, a world leader in imaging products, and GE, a global leader in lighting products, represents an extraordinary opportunity to make the commercialization of OLED lighting products a reality,” says Michael Idelchik, Vice President, Advanced Technology Programs, GE Global Research. “Both companies have achieved significant advances in OLED technologies at the research and development stage. Now, we will pool our substantial resources and expertise to accelerate the development of this transformational technology.”
OLEDs are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied. They represent the next evolution in lighting products. Their widespread design capabilities will provide an entirely different way for people to light their homes or businesses. Moreover, OLEDs have the potential to deliver dramatically improved levels of efficiency and environmental performance, while achieving at least the same quality of illumination found in traditional products in the marketplace today.
Important OLED Advancement
On June 30, 2006, KM announced that it had successfully developed a white OLED with a world record power efficiency of 64 lumens per watt at 1,000 candela per square meter—a brightness which is appropriate for lighting applications. Prior to this development, KM developed its own highly efficient and long-life blue phosphorescent materials. Applying these material technologies, along with multi-layer design technology and innovative optical design technology, KM succeeded in developing an OLED having a practical light emission level of approximately 10,000 hours.
In addition to material technology and optical design technology, KM has been developing the ultra-high barrier film fabrication technology to enable high productivity. Superb coating technology nurtured through the development of photographic film and display materials also plays an important role in the development of highly productive OLEDs. Currently, research and development for its commercialization is under way.
GE, as part of its ecomagination initiative, has made substantial investments in OLED research that have resulted in world records for OLED lighting device size and efficiency. In 2004, GE researchers were able to demonstrate an OLED device that produced 1,200 lumens of light with efficiency on par with today’s incandescent bulb technology. This was the first demonstration that OLED technology could potentially be used for lighting applications. Since then, GE has more than doubled the level of OLED efficiency using device architectures that are scalable to a large area and that can be produced cost-effectively.
“In a world demanding higher standards for energy efficiency and environmental performance, OLED lighting has the potential to become a major lighting source on both fronts,” says GE Consumer & Industrial Vice President Michael Petras. “And because OLED lighting is soft and diffused, it will create some exciting application opportunities for designers and specifiers. The applications are numerous, ranging from ceiling lighting for office and residential applications, to interior automotive and aircraft lighting, to many specialty lighting applications such as task lighting, sign and various forms of interior retail lighting.”