TOKYO General Electric Co. and Konica Minolta are teaming up to bring organic-LED-based lighting products to market within three years.
GE, Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. and Konica Minolta Technology Center Inc. announced the agreement Tuesday (March 27). Konica Minolta Technology Center, GE Global Research and GE's Consumer and Industrial Business division will jointly conduct R&D based on the companies' complementary OLED technologies. Details on where products will be manufactured and assembled, and under what brands, are being hammered out.
Inorganic white LEDs are already establishing themselves as an efficient alternative to incandescent lighting sources. GE allied with Nichia Corp., the top blue- and white-LED supplier, in the field last September. White-LED-based lighting products overshadowed OLEDs at the recent Lighting Fair here.
But in a statement related to Tuesday's announcement, Masatoshi Matsuzaki, president of the Konica Minolta Technology Center, extolled the virtues of OLEDs, citing their flexibility, thin profile, low weight and availability in sheet form. "OLED lighting is considered one of the most promising new business opportunities for us in the future," Matsuzaki said.
GE has been developing OLEDs as part of its Advanced Technology Program. Recently, it demonstrated a flexible blue OLED prototype based on plastic film.
GE Consumer & Industrial vice president Michael Petras said in a statement, "In a world demanding higher standards for energy efficiency and environmental performance, OLED lighting has the potential to become a major lighting source on both fronts. And because OLED lighting is soft and diffused, it will create some exciting application opportunities for designers and specifiers.
"The applications are numerous, ranging from ceiling lighting for office and residential applications to interior automotive and aircraft lighting to many specialty lighting applications, such as task lighting, signage and various forms of interior retail lighting."
Thinness and direct light illumination are OLED advantages, but organic materials are subject to deterioration with moisture. Development of high-efficiency blue-emitting sources has been another challenge for OLED developers.
In June, Konica Minolta reported on a white-OLED panel with record high efficiency of 64 lumens/watt, brightness of 1,000 candelas/square meter and a 10,000-hour lifetime. The company said the prototype satisfies the requirements for lighting equipment.
The panel employs phosphorescent materials, which have higher efficiency than the fluorescent materials conventionally used for OLEDs. It also taps a Konica Minolta-developed blue material, developed last year, that emits light with a brightness of 300 cd/square meter with a 16,000-hour operating life.
Konica Minolta also claims to have developed superior barrier-film technology for protecting the OLED emitting layer from moisture.