As well as the super-thin, next-generation TV’s we’re all looking forward to, organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, also hold great potential as a light source. They are extremely energy efficient, dimmable, can produce many different colors, emit light over an extended area and the light they produce is diffuse and non-glaring. The thin, flat nature of OLEDs also makes it possible to create light sources in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. However, until now, the physical characteristics of OLEDs have meant they have had to be powered from low-voltage direct current (DC) sources. Philips Research has now developed the first ever OLED module that can be powered directly from a mains electricity supply.

The Philips prototype opens the door to OLED systems that can be directly plugged into standard power outlets without the need for bulky power management circuitry. The company says this will reduce the bill of materials and simplify the design of lighting units for future OLED-based systems aimed at mass-market general lighting applications. Because it reduces the number of components in a finished system, it makes system integration and assembly simpler, improves end-product reliability and enables faster time-to-market. Moreover, it increases design freedom and expands the range of potential OLED applications.

“We have combined proprietary interconnect and packaging technology to create this demonstrator,” says Dr. Dirk Hente of Philips Research. “We’re already seeing AC-driven LEDs coming onto the market. Our prototype marks a breakthrough step towards a similar evolution in OLEDs.”

Philips plans to use the new technology in its Lumiblade line of large area diffuse lighting OLED systems.