A bright idea to improve the cost performance and reduce the environmental impact of OLED lighting


Exploiting ground-breaking research in the field of thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF), the €4M PHEBE project aims to develop innovative, high-efficiency, blue emitters for white organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The new emitters are expected to create a major breakthrough in increased cost performance and reduced environmental impact of OLED lighting.

PHEBE was recently selected for funding by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 ICT programme and will begin in early 2015. The project proposal was prepared by Luxembourg-based Intelligentsia who will coordinate a multidisciplinary consortium of partners spanning the development and commercialisation of the new emitters: OLED lighting research organisations (University of Durham, TU Dresden and Kaunas University of Technology), OLED component producer (Novaled), and OLED lighting device manufacturer (Astron-FIAMM).

Today, two key issues prevent current iridium-based, phosphorescent OLED emitters from gaining a major fraction of the world lighting markets. Firstly, iridium is the fourth rarest naturally-occurring element on the planet, so basing a large-scale, high-volume lighting industry on this resource is risky as well as detrimental to the environment. Secondly, iridium-based blue phosphor devices have low energy efficacy and short working lifetimes that are well-below industry expectations.

However, recent research by the University of Durham on intramolecular charge transfer systems that enable TADF (ICT-TADF) and intermolecular exciplex charge transfer systems that enable TADF (Exciplex-TADF) has demonstrated very promising improvements in energy efficacy. Also, importantly, these molecular systems do not use iridium.

During the 3 year project, the PHEBE partners will model, synthesise and characterise different ICT-TADF and Exciplex-TADF materials. The most promising candidates will be selected to create emitter layers and integrated into white stack units. In turn, the new stacks will be used to produce several types of OLED lighting panels that are expected to demonstrate energy efficacy above 100 lm/W for an emitting layer cost below 1 euro/100 lm. Furthermore, Intelligentsia will conduct a life cycle assessment to evaluate and compare the new TADF based OLEDs with existing phosphorescent OLEDs.

Within a few years of completing the project, the PHEBE partners anticipate the revenue generated by the new molecular materials could reach €20M/year.




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