OLED Panel Technology for 2017
OLED (“Organic Light Emitting Diode’s”) display panels are made from organic (carbon based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied. Since OLEDs do not require a backlight and filters (unlike LCD displays), they are more efficient, easier to work with, and significantly thinner. They are so versatile and flexible they can actually be an be made rollable. OLEDs have a stunning image quality – very vibrant colors, infinite contrast, a fast response-rate and wide (side) viewing angles.
OLED display technologies offer bright, colorful images with a wide viewing angle, low power, high contrast ratio and fast response time for sports and action movies. They are the choice that Apple has apparently made for the new iPhone 8 because they are so thin and flexible, creating more design options for the California based consumer device company. Interestingly, it also appears that Apple will use Samsung as the primary supplier for the iPhone 8 OLED screens.
OLED Panel Manufacturing
An OLED panel itself is made from a substrate, a “backplane” (AKA the electronics or the driver), a “frontplane” (the organic materials and electrodes as explained above) and an encapsulation layer. OLED’s are very highly sensitive to oxygen and liquids, so the encapsulation layer is a critical part of the technology.
Manufacturing the OED panels is not easy. The substrate and backplane of an OLED display are similar to making the highly popular LCD and LED screen technologies, but what’s known as front plane deposition is unique to OLEDs. In short, there are multiple methods to deposit and pattern the organic layers of the technology. Currently most OLED displays are made using vacuum evaporation, adding a “Shadow Mask” (FMM, Fine Metal Mask) to pattern the screen. This is a relatively simple method but it is inefficient (lots of scrap loss) and is very difficult to scale up to large substrates and yields needed for something like iPhone’s.
The are still many challenges facing the OLED industry. Here’s a list of some of the major ones:
- How long will the screens last – lifetime and efficiency (especially of the “blue” material)
- Soluble OLED material performance and production processes need to be further perfected
- Flexible OLED encapsulation
- Better backplane materials for flexible OLED technologies can be improved further
- Scaling of evaporation processes for direct-emission OLEDs beyond Current generations
In summery, it seems clear the iPhone 8 will include the new OLED technologies. Just how they implement it in their new design is yet-to-be revealed, but iPhone lovers around the world are clearly excited for the newest iPhone release, sometime in 2017.