Organic LEDs (OLEDs) have been used mostly as light sources in luminaires, lamps, and displays. However, flexible organic technology can offer more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a variety of materials, not just to modify but to start anew with the functionality and design of existing products. The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP (Dresden, Germany) and the company EMDE development of light (Frankfurt, Germany) will be showing hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany, Hall B0, booth no. 407) as examples of possible new OLED applications.
The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of technologies and processes for organic electronics and component integration. The team at the design company of EMDE development of light GmbH also has years of experience with OLEDs, including development of the world's first OLED luminaire series.
OLEDs can provide active illumination instead of just limited reflectance; this enhanced visibility from all angles means the wearer can be seen more clearly, increasing rider safety. (They also could be said to make a fashion statement.) The OLEDs are fabricated on flexible substrates such as plastic films and connecting them to conductive threading for electrical power.
In addition, the Fraunhofer FEP has now for the first time implemented, along with the HOLST Center (Eindhoven, Netherlands), an extension of OLED technology in the EU-funded project PI-SCALE—a hybrid OLED. These flexible OLEDs combine the advantages of printed and evaporated layers in one component; the passivation layers, the metallization, and an organic layer were printed in a roll-to-roll process on barrier films from the HOLST Centre. All subsequent layers required by the OLED were vapor-deposited at Fraunhofer FEP with the help of its R2R evaporation tool. The OLED's optical output is homogeneous thanks due to printed metallization over the entire surface of the component.
"By combining printed and vaporized layers, process throughput and production speed can be increased up to 100 times," says Claudia Keibler-Willner, department head at the Fraunhofer FEP. The only dimensional limitation is the 30 cm roll width of the substrate material.
The Fraunhofer FEP and EMDE teams want to tackle challenges of fabrication and integration of OLEDs with different surfaces jointly in the future and are open to further development projects with industrial partners.