With an eye to the future, Universal Display is invested in developing next-generation technologies based on the fundamental properties of organic materials. While today, organic materials are primarily used in OLEDs for displays and lighting, the excellent opto-electronic properties of organic materials and their thin films have the potential to enable novel electronic uses beyond OLED displays and lighting. These prospective markets for organic electronics may be substantial. Examples of technology under development by Universal Display's university partners include:
Organic Lasers - Our university partners at Princeton University were the first to demonstrate a key novel property of organic thin films. In the late 1990s, Dr. Forrest and team discovered that organic thin films can produce intense laser radiation. Moreover, they discovered that these organic lasers have some remarkable features not shared by conventional inorganic semiconductor lasers. For example, laser emission across the spectrum - from the infrared into the ultraviolet - can be achieved by simple modification of the organic molecules. In addition, an organic laser’s optical properties, i.e., wavelength and optical output power, are temperature independent - making these devices potentially valuable optical standards for communications and clocks. For commercial viability to be achieved, however, new approaches to electrical excitation must be developed. If successful, an entirely new generation of laser sources may be possible - opening up opportunities to serve the needs of the optical communications industry.
Organic-TFTs - Organic thin film transistors (o-TFTs), though still under development, may play an important role in the emerging world of flexible, low-cost organic electronics. Our research partners at the University of Michigan are active in this field. Leveraging the features of our proprietary organic vapor phase deposition process, Dr. Forrest and team are focused on developing high-performance o-TFTs. They have also demonstrated transistors printed by organic vapor jet printing (OVJP) — a key way to potentially achieve the very low costs and high throughputs required for low-cost printed organic electronics. With the number of prospective markets for flexible, organic electronics growing, the potential for high-performance o-TFT technology is excellent.
Photodetectors - The development of organic photodetectors may provide additional capabilities toward the realization of the next-generation of “smart” displays, smart cards and other innovative electronics. For example, integrating an organic photodetector with a transparent OLED may lead to very power-efficient, emissive “electronic paper”. Here, the photodetector is used to absorb a small fraction of the light emitted by the TOLED pixel to keep it turned on, until another signal is sent to turn the pixel off. With this detection scheme, power consumption can be lowered because the display need only be connected to the data source briefly to change, instead of maintain, the image. This is just one example where organic photodetectors may create new “smart” market opportunities.