New OLED has bright future

A new generation of OLEDs could lead to brighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly displays as University of Utah physicists invent a "spintronic" organic light-emitting diode (OLED). A university professor has told 'Science', an established scientific journal, that the invention is a completely different technology to regular OLEDs.

Developers warn that the products are not likely to hit the market for another five years as they currently only operate in temperatures no warmer than about -33°C.

Valy Vardeny, professor at the University of Utah developed the OLED prototype with Tho D. Nguyen, a research assistant professor of physics and Eitan Ehrenfreund, a physicist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.

"It’s a completely different technology," Vardeny said in the journal Science. "These new organic LEDs can be brighter than regular organic LEDs."

The Utah physicists made a prototype of the new kind of LED – known technically as a spin-polarized organic LED or spin OLED – that produces an orange colour. But Vardeny expects it will be possible within two years to use the new technology to produce red and blue as well, and he eventually expects to make white spin OLEDs.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Israel Science Foundation and U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation. The research was part of the University of Utah’s new Materials Research Science and Engineering Centre, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative.