Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen, Germany working with Philips have developed a process that could slash the cost of organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), potentially leading to cheap, large, ultra-thin and highly efficient monitors and displays.
Currently, firms making OLEDs must create conductive metal strips under the chips’ substrate to distribute electrical current to the oprganic molecules that ggenerate light. Up until now, this always involves depositing metal on the substrate, then evaporating most of it away.
The new process takes the opposite approach. It relies on a combination of masks and vapor to deposit just the right amount of material. First, the engineers construct a mask for the substrate that has slits where the conductive strips should be. They lay a thin film of aluminum, copper or silver over the mask and use a laser to melt this metal film. Then they apply a vapor that creates enough pressure to push the molten metal through the slit, creating the conductive strip. The researchers estimate the process could be commercialized in two to three years, the scientists said
This breakthrough comes on top of the one recently announced by Dupont. Engineers there have come up with a way to print 50-in. OLED displays in a matter of minutes using technology similar to that used in injets.