PARIS – An international three-year project, partly funded by the European Union, has been launched with the objective to mass-produce organic light emitting devices (OLEDs). Its overall cost amounts to €1.3 million ($1.7 million).
Because OLEDs are thin and flexible, the project's initiators said lighting and electronic display screens could be created on virtually any material. Clothes and packaging could thus display electronic information.
These devices are currently used as displays in some mobile phones and MP3 players, but they are not reliable enough for larger screens targeting TVs and computers as they stop working after a few months.
The project, dubbed Modelling Electroactive Conjugated Materials at the Multiscale (Modecom), aims to bring to mass market OLEDs which could have "far reaching technological implications and cut the cost of lighting by billion of pounds each year", said its participants. It gathers 13 groups from nine universities and two companies. Three groups are from the United Kingdom, six from the United States, and one each from China, Belgium, Italy and Denmark.
Commenting on the project, Dr Alison Walker, the coordinator of the project from the University of Bath’s Department of Physics, declared: “The experimentalists make measurements to test the efficiency of the devices, but it’s hard to get a clear picture of what is going on at present. This project is about making that picture clearer using computer models to develop the theory. Success in achieving the goals of cheap, efficient and long lasting devices is essential as we must do everything we can to reduce our energy costs.“
Dr Walker said her part of the consortium’s research uses a mathematical technique, called Monte Carlo analysis, in which computer-generated random numbers are used to plot the paths of electrons, holes and excitons as they move across the film. The results from this can be used to calculate how the chemical structure and impurities affect the device’s performance. Chemists can then use the data to design more efficient materials.
The Modecom consortium will work on the molecular level and look at the workings of the device as a whole. This research also intends to aid the understanding of the polymer materials used in plastic electronics in applications such as electronic paper and intelligent labels on groceries.
Other areas being studied by Modecom are solar cells, or photovoltaics.
The European Union indicated that it is funding all European and Chinese partners.