LONDON Polar OLED Ltd. (Leeds, England) is a startup formed by researchers from the University of Hull to commercialize liquid crystal OLED technology and intellectual property developed there. The company, founded in November 2008, has received venture capital from IP Group plc although the amount was not been disclosed.
The company is led by Professors Steve Kelly and Mary O'Neill, who jointly head up the organophotonics research group at Hull, where the use of light-emitting and charge-transporting liquid crystals in OLEDS has been pioneered. The materials being developed by the University of Hull may be more cost-effective to manufacture than those currently in use for and being developed elsewhere.
OLEDs are already used in displays but Sony and Kodak are using a small molecule approach which is difficult to scale-up and can only be deposited on glass surfaces, IP Group said in a statement. The conventional alternative to small molecule OLEDs is the polymer OLED which have different challenges with regard to pixel resolution and layered systems.
Polar OLED is pioneering a third approach liquid crystal-based polymer networks which are UV-cured using lithographic techniques. "This technology allows for high quality displays on both plastic or glass substrates as in the polymer-OLED approach but without the high cost of manufacture associated with the small molecule OLED system," according to Polar OLED.
It is notable that the first stable liquid crystals were invented at the University of Hull's chemistry department in 1971. Professor Kelly worked with Professor George Gray who pioneered the original liquid crystal research.
"I remember how rewarding it was to work with liquid crystals in the 1970s. To see how our work led to a new era in TV manufacturing, from the bulky cathode ray tube to the streamlined liquid crystal displays, was quite spectacular. What we are experiencing with OLED technology is just as much of a seismic shift and to be a part of this cutting-edge optoelectronic research is immensely exciting," said Professor Kelly in a statement issued by IP Group.
Danny Lynham, investment manager for IP Group said: "OLED devices have huge commercial potential in the worldwide display market and we look forward to working closely with major strategic players to attract further interest and investment."
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