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OLED for Lighting - Technology, Industry and Market Trends

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OLED for Lighting report Icone

Despite a projected $1.5B business opportunity by 2021, the future of OLED lighting is still uncertain.


OLED revenues are mainly driven by display applications, e.g. smartphones, but the industry has also been trying to target lighting applications for several years, based on the technology specifics in terms of design or form factor and efficiency. On this new battleground, OLEDs are competing with LED technology, which has already paved the way with a revolution in Solid State Lighting (SSL) drawing attention away from OLED over the last 10 years. Added to that, the high cost of OLED technology is not making market penetration easier, current low efficacy is slowing adoption and the advantages claimed by OLED lighting companies are not necessarily perceived by the customers. OLEDs will therefore have to find niche or “spark” markets to develop production scale momentum and create a marketing window allowing them to demonstrate the advantages and possibilities of the technology to customers.

Automotive lighting could represent one of the first “spark” markets for OLED lighting technology. Indeed, with the recent integration of LED technology, lighting has evolved from a basic, functional feature to a distinctive feature with a high value potential in automotive. OLEDs have a real potential to differentiate themselves from LEDs and offer new added value. The BMW M4 GTS, commercialized in 2016, is the first commercial car to adopt OLED technology in rear lamps. It is now a question of understanding what level of interest the technology will generate from automotive OEMs/Tier-1s.

To access traditional general lighting segments e.g. commercial lighting or office lighting, OLED technology will have to combine enough different niche or “spark” markets to achieve the economies of scale that will allow for a decrease in cost. In this field, several niche lighting applications are being investigated by the OLED lighting industry: medical lighting and embedded lighting among them.

We estimate that OLED lighting panels have reached a market size of nearly $30M in 2015 and will grow to nearly $1.5B by 2021.

Although more difficult to access, general lighting markets could drive this growth, provided that:

  • Enough niche markets are identified to create a minimum production scale, and allow for further price reduction in OLED lighting panels/systems.
  • Advantages of OLEDs, as claimed by OLED lighting companies, are demonstrated to customers.

The report presents all OLED lighting applications and associated market metrics for the period 2013-2021, providing details about drivers and challenges, the status of OLED integration, volume and market size per application.

OLED lighting panel revenue 2013 2021 


In the past, many companies have overestimated the potential of the OLED lighting market, particularly for general lighting applications. Facing both numerous technological challenges and low demand for OLED lighting products, several companies are now reshaping their OLED activities. Different strategies are being developed, depending on technology, market and value chain positioning.

Some companies have decided to exit the OLED lighting business. This is the case with Philips Lighting, which has sold its OLED assets, or Panasonic, which has announced its withdrawal from the OLED lighting market. However, most of the recent industrial restructuring and repositioning activities were related to M&A: OLEDWorks has acquired OLED assets from Philips Lighting, LG Chem OLED’s lighting business merged with/was acquired by LG Display... Several others are on-going or to be expected in the coming years.

Some companies have decided to focus a part of their OLED activities on automotive lighting, e.g. Osram, or niche lighting applications, e.g. Alkilu, Polyphotonix, Takahata, applications for which OLEDs benefit from a higher perceived added value compared to LEDs and other lighting sources.

Start-ups and companies have also suffered from this gloomy environment as investment has dried up. As a consequence, small companies that develop innovative materials and processes are now seeking industrial partners with deep pockets to pursue their development to the point of commercialization. On the other hand, this trend can also represent an opportunity for bigger players still struggling with technological challenges. Indeed, it might be of interest for them to speed up their development through collaboration with companies bringing “missing technology elements”. In this context, partnerships are more important than ever to overcome technological barriers and create concrete business opportunities for OLED in the lighting market.

Finally, it is also important to understand that there have been few new entrants to the OLED lighting industry in the past years. Most of the newcomers in the OLED field have oriented their strategy toward OLED display applications. Other companies which may have some OLED lighting technologies and which are not yet involved in the industry are waiting for a higher market demand prior to entering the business.

The report presents an analysis of the OLED lighting industry, providing details about the supply chain, main players, collaborations, and recent M&A.

Recent M and A and exits in the OLED lighting industry 


The OLED lighting companies are currently facing the “chicken and egg” problem: how can they develop the large production volume necessary to drive down the cost/price, when the main barrier to entering the mass market is the high manufacturing cost of OLED lighting panels?

The main solutions sought consist of:

  • Improving synergies with OLED display technologies leading to optimized supply chain, common R&D development and use of partially depreciated OLED display equipment.
  • Focusing research on innovative technologies which can rapidly bring cost reduction and performance improvement.

The majority of commercial OLED lighting panels are still based on the Sheet-to-Sheet (S2S) process where small organic molecules are deposited on rigid glass substrates by evaporation techniques. Breakthrough approaches, promising lower manufacturing costs and/or better OLED lighting design freedom, are tentatively reaching the commercial stage; Konica Minolta opened its Roll-to-Roll (R2R) manufacturing facility in 2014/2015, LG Display started to commercialize flexible OLED lighting panels in 2015 and Sumitomo Chemical recently started to deliver, in limited quantities, its printed polymer-based OLED lighting panels.

Regarding flexible OLEDs, a potential killer “parameter” for OLED lighting, LG Display started commercializing such a device in 2015. However, the availability of cost-effective moisture barrier technology solutions, i.e. substrate/encapsulation levels, is still a key challenge for advanced OLED development. Indeed, flexible OLEDs can be made on different substrates and each one presents some pros and cons:

  • Metal foils offer good barrier properties but are opaque.
  • Ultrathin glasses are transparent and offer good barrier properties but are relatively fragile.
  • Plastic - transparent and highly flexible, but requires a good barrier.

As a consequence, barrier solutions have to be customized to avoid the reliability and lifetime issues inherent with encapsulated OLED devices. In 2016, there is no mainstream solution and many companies have developed their own. These companies put a lot of effort into continuously improving them as a good barrier technology could help to unlock the OLED lighting market’s potential, as flexibility is potentially the killer parameter. It could also find applications in a large variety of other devices like flexible electronics or organic solar cells.

It is also important to highlight that the additional benefit of using flexible substrates could be found in using Roll-to-Roll (R2R) processes, solution-processable materials and solution-based techniques e.g. slot-die or ink-jet and these technologies may result in a reduction of OLED manufacturing costs.

The report presents a deep analysis of OLED technology, OLED manufacturing and associated roadmaps, providing details about the different OLED structures, requirements for each layer, materials used, manufacturing techniques and associated equipment and manufacturing costs.

Flexible device chart and the position of current OLED lighting devices 

Objectives of the Report

This report’s objectives are to analyze:

  • The current status of OLEDs for lighting applications and future trends
  • OLED lighting industry structure and future trends
  • The main materials and structures used for OLED lighting panel development and manufacturing
  • The main manufacturing techniques and equipment used for OLED lighting panel development
  • Manufacturing costs related to OLED lighting panels
  • OLED lighting roadmaps and R&D activities
  • Volume/size for OLED lighting panel markets


Table of contents


Objectives of the report 6

What’s new compared to “OLED for Lighting” 2012 report? 7

Authors of the report 8

Acronyms  9

Executive summary 10

Introduction to OLED for lighting 36

What is an OLED?
OLED historical milestones - Focus on OLED lighting
Applications and market segments of OLEDs
Why OLED for lighting?
OLED for lighting challenges
OLED lighting vs. OLED display
   -   Main requirements
   -   Current status of technologies

Key drivers and barriers for OLED lighting 


OLED lighting applications and markets 47

   -   The Solid State Lighting (SSL) revolution
   -   Potential for OLEDs

   -   Status of LED technology and industry
   -   Advantages of OLEDs
   -   Challenges for OLEDs
   -   Focus on efficacy
   -   Focus on cost

General lighting
   -   Overview of light source technologies
   -   Overview of market segments (and associated characteristics)
   -   Market highlights - current status
   -   OLED integration
        * Market landscape, drivers, customers and applications
        * Current main market/product focus
        * Analysis of task lamp application: LED vs. OLED
        * Market access roadmap
   -   Future trends - flexible OLED lighting panels
        * Introduction
        * Technology push vs. market pull
        * Flexible system with rigid panels
   -   Roadmap of applications - towards flexible and transparent OLEDs
   -   OLED lighting panel market volume
   -   OLED lighting panel market size

Automotive lighting
   -   General context
   -   Drivers & potential applications
   -   Challenges for OLED integration
        * Technology aspects
        * Market/Industry aspects
   -   Recent development
        * OLED rear lamp prototypes from HELLA
        * OLED rear lamp prototypes from Osram
        * OLED rear lamp prototypes from Stanley Electric
        * BMW - From prototype to production (M4 GTS)
   -   Future trends - From 2D OLED to 3D OLED
        * Breakthrough design possibilities
        * Focus on R2D2 project
   -   OLED lighting panel market volume
   -   OLED lighting panel market size

Niche lighting applications
   -   Examples
   -   Analysis

Total OLED lighting market opportunity


OLED lighting industry 100

OLED equipment developers and suppliers
OLED material developers and suppliers
OLED lighting panel developers and suppliers
OLED lighting module developers and suppliers
OLED luminaire developers and suppliers
Partnerships and collaboration
   -   Advantages
   -   Status

South Korea = centre of gravity for OLED business
Recent M&A and exits


OLED structures and materials 114

   -   Typical structure of an OLED
   -   OLED working principle
   -   Bottom-emitting, top-emitting and transparent OLED
   -   Different approaches to obtain white OLEDs
   -   Overview of OLED structures and materials
   -   Organic materials
            * Small-molecules vs. polymers
            * Case of wet techniques (i.e.: solution-based processing)

Insights on flexible OLEDs
   -   Why going “flexible”?
   -   OLED lighting panel from Konica Minolta
   -   Flexible device vs. rigid final product
   -   Which flexible OLED lighting devices do we need?
   -   Substrate
            * Introduction
            * Comparative table
   -   Technology push vs. market pull
   -   Analysis of potential for flexible OLEDs

   -   Targeted properties of OLED substrates
   -   Overview of OLED substrates
   -   Comparative table
   -   Flexible OLED substrates challenges
            * Overview
            * Metal foil
   -   Rigid glass
   -   Ultrathin glass
   -   Integrated OLED substrate

Anode and cathode
   -   Material requirements for OLED electrode materials
   -   Comparison of different materials used for transparent electrodes
   -   Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) - A standard anode material
   -   Why ITO alternatives are sought?
   -   ITO alternatives
            * PEDOT:PSS
            * Silver nanowires from Cambrios
            * Metal grid
   -   Graphene
            * A new candidate for transparent OLED electrode
            * Electrode challenge - Complex process integration
   -   Overview of OLED cathode materials
   -   Air-stable cathode

Hole Injection Layer (HIL) and Hole Transport Layer (HTL)
   -   Hole Injection Layer
            * Material requirements
            * PEDOT:PSS as HIL material
   -   Hole Transport Layer - Material requirements

Emissive organic materials
   -   Phosphorescent vs. fluorescent materials
   -   Hybrid OLED vs. PHOLED
   -   Thermally Activated Delayed Fluorescence (TADF)
   -   White OLED emitter compositions
   -   Host materials and dopants
   -   Light-Emitting Polymers (LEPs)
   -   Insight on the lifetime issues of emitter materials

Blocking Layer (BL), Electron Transport Layer (ETL) and Electron > Injection Layer (EIL)
   -   Blocking Layer
   -   Electron Transport Layer
   -   Electron Injection Layer

   -   Overview
   -   Barrier material requirements
   -   Encapsulation structures and materials
   -   Alternatives to a glass barrier
   -   Multilayer barrier solution
   -   Barrier technology solutions and associated companies
   -   Why so many companies focus on barrier development?
   -   Challenges associated with barrier quality measurements

Light extraction
   -   Light extraction structures
   -   Types of light out-coupling structures


OLED manufacturing techniques and equipment 185

Overview of techniques and equipment
   -   Importance of matching the materials and equipment
   -   Manufacturing process flow for OLED lighting panel
   -   OLED lighting panel production
   -   Manufacturing process line for the OLED display
   -   Patterning
   -   OLED panel size scaling
   -   The largest rigid and flexible OLED panels in 2016
   -   Technology challenges in OLED panel size scaling
   -   Market challenges in OLED panel size scaling
   -   OLED electronic drivers
   -   Sheet-to-sheet vs. roll-to-roll techniques
   -   Sheet-to-sheet process for OLED on flexible substrates
   -   Thin film deposition - digital growth vs. photolithography approach
   -   OLED testing and sorting
   -   Overview of deposition techniques used for OLEDs
   -   Dry deposition vs. solution deposition
   -   Vapor deposition of organic layers
            * Overview
            * Characteristics
   -   Vapor Thermal Evaporation (VTE)
   -   Linear evaporation sources to achieve higher throughput
   -   Organic Vapor Phase Deposition (OVPD®)
            * Overview
            * Focus on Aixtron OVPD® equipment
   -   Polymer Vapor Phase Deposition (PVPD™)

Solution-based deposition techniques
   -   Requirements for film formation
   -   Challenges of multilayer deposition
   -   Approaches for multilayer deposition
            * Orthogonal solvents approach
            * Crosslinking approach
   -   Spin-coating
   -   Inkjet printing
            * Overview
            * Focus on Kateeva
            * Focus on Sumitomo Chemical
   -   Slot die coating
   -   Other techniques


OLED manufacturing cost 223

2013 - 2021 OLED lighting panel manufacturing cost ($/m²)
   -   Overview
   -   Process cost
   -   Material cost

Industrial roadmaps
How to decrease OLED lighting panel manufacturing cost?
Key milestones


OLED roadmap and R&D activities 236

State-of-the-art of OLED lighting
Challenges associated to OLED lighting
   -   Introduction
   -   Key milestones achieved & next steps
   -   Focus on efficacy
   -   Analysis

The different approaches to achieve low OLED cost
The different ways to improved OLED efficacy
Main financing institutions / organizations for OLED lighting R&D Activities


General conclusion   247







Companies cited

Acuity Brands
Astron Fiamm
Dow Corning
Duksan Hi-Metal
Holst Centre
Idemitsu Kosan
Jilin Optical and Electronic Materials
Jusung Engineering
Konica Minolta
Kurt J. Lesker
LG Chem

Mitsubishi Chemical
Moser Baer
Polar OLED
Sumitomo Chemical
Sunic Systems
Universal Display Corporation (UDC)
Visa Lighting
WAC Lighting


























  • OLED market analysis for lighting applications
  • OLED industry analysis from material to lighting systems
  • OLED materials, structures and manufacturing techniques analysis
  • OLED roadmap analysis including cost and efficacy
  • OLED lighting panel market metrics, unit and value: forecast 2013-2021