The IPMS researchers already have achieved light efficiencies of up to 100 lumen per watt for white light ten times higher than incandescent bulbs. Longevity however still is an issue. For this reason, commercial application for general OLED-based lighting is not expected to start before 2015. For selected niche applications however, production could start as early as 2010. Recently the institute announced to launch a joint venture with Austrian company Zumtobel group aiming at commercializing this technology.
From OLED to organic photovoltaics is not a big jump. Heliatek GmbH, just around the corner, is dedicated to this topic. The spin-off of the Dresden Technical University has achieved efficiencies of somewhat better than 6 percent with their materials. While this efficiency cannot compete against silicon-based materials, the filmy organic material can be used to produce transparent solar cells, suited for building facings. In this market segment the competition from Asia is already rather high. For this reason the company funded by BASF and Bosch focuses on developing a cost-effective roll-to-roll production process. "We have to be fast," a company spokesperson said. Commercial production is expected to launch in the first half of next year.
Even closer to commercial production is Plastic Logic. Despite still carrying the label "start-up company", the company is already truly globalized: The executive management is based in Mountain View (California) while R&D is located in Cambridge (UK) and production as well as process development is taking place in Dresden. The investor list is as global as the company itself; among others, Intel, Siemens and BASF have funded Plastic Logic.
The company is in the home stretch to rolling out an eBook reader as soon as January 2010. Unlike competing devices, Plastic Logic's reader will offer users the ability to manipulate the content to a certain extend users can annotate something; they can strike out or highlight text.
In Dresden, Plastic Logic will manufacture the flexible display backplane as a core element to the eBook reader. With its organic substrate, the backplane will be much cheaper than silicon, company spokesperson Rachel Lichten claimed. Plastic Logic's coating and dry patterning production process is three years ahead of the competition, estimates Lichten.