Image via DuPont
OLED televisions are on their way as an option for highly vivid colors while (eventually) using less energy than the current king of energy efficiency - LED backlit LCD displays. However, the bigger an OLED display, the more expensive it is to manufacture. Televisions on the market now are a relatively tiny 15" for the largest versions, and they're running around $2700.00. Companies are interested in printing OLEDs in long rolls to help bring down the cost, but not much has progressed...until now, perhaps. DuPont announced a new ink that can be used for printing out OLED displays on the cheap, and they've created a 50" display in just two minutes!
Technology Review reports that DuPont used a Dainippon Screen multi-nozzle printer - which can embed active molecules within the inks and then layer them - to successfully create a 50" display that has a lifetime of 15 years. Both a cumbersome manufacturing process and short lifetime have been drawbacks of OLEDs versus LED and LCD displays. If DuPont can create them in such a short time, it could mean much cheaper OLED products.
The barriers still in place for this new process is reliability of the printing - the devices created aren't as durable nor do they perform as well on average compared to devices manufactured the more conventional way. Developing inks that won't bleed during printing and printing devices that have all the right electrical properties plus a long lifespan is going to be difficult.
However, DuPont is well on the way, developing inks for each layer that are insoluble in the inks of adjacent layers. This diminishes problems with bleeding, but is a major effort for production. The multi-nozzle printer from Daininppon Screen is helping to get the inks layered correctly, and the first test run was successful. Now it's just a matter of scaling up the technology and seeing if it will work in mass production.
OLEDs are still a long way away from being as energy efficient as LED backlit LCDs, but as the technology progresses, they could one day be both more efficient on energy as well as materials, since the displays are ultra thin.