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OLED panel could switch between sunroof and light source

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January 20, 2012

A sample of the OLED roof panel material, that can switch between being transparent and em...

A sample of the OLED roof panel material, that can switch between being transparent and emitting light

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What if your car had roof panels that let you see the sky during the day, but that lit the interior of the vehicle at night? This is now a distinct possibility, thanks to work being done by BASF and Philips. As members of a consortium assembled by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the two companies have created OLED panels and installed them in the roof of a car. When switched on, the panels glow, lighting the cabin of the car - when switched off, they simply go transparent.

OLEDs are a type of light-emitting diode, which produce light by applying an electrical current to an electroluminescent film of organic compounds. Due to the fact that the light comes from all of this film, as opposed to a single focused point, the illumination provided by the new panels is said to be very soft and even.

A sample of the OLED roof panel material, that can switch between being transparent and em...

Because the film is just 1.8 mm thick, it can also be combined with transparent solar cells. This would allow the roof panels not only to provide illumination at night, but to generate electricity during the day.

While the Philips/BASF panels may be a new innovation, panels that are at least able to switch between clear and tinted states aren't. Mercedes-Benz's MAGIC SKY CONTROL system utilizes particles in the glass that block sunlight in their "off" state, but align themselves to let it through when voltage is applied.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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4 Comments

Does this panel shine in both directions?!?!

Pavel Chernov
21st January, 2012 @ 01:27 am PST

Forget Moonroofs.

These could be put in skylights in homes.....

PrometheusGoneWild.com
21st January, 2012 @ 08:05 am PST

What is the color temperature of this light? It could be a great source of lighting for photography and I could see creating a room of light to create evenly lit product shots. If this light were able to help our bodies make vitamin D we could improve the health of millions of people stuck in northern latitudes and not getting enough sunlight.

Carlos Grados
21st January, 2012 @ 09:28 am PST

Personally, having driven in Phoenix in July and Lake Placid in January, I wouldn't want the sun shining through the roof during the daylight hours - rather I'd prefer something which not only BLOCKS IR and UV wavelengths but thermally insulates as well.

As to interior lighting - have the researchers ever driven at night with the dome light lit? (no mention of switching translucent option) I've always found it more difficult to see the road ahead ESPECIALLY what with that film (out-gassing plastic?) which coats the windows' interior surfaces.

Larry
21st January, 2012 @ 08:17 pm PST
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