In recent years, a number of industries have started using Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) in diverse ways. The automotive industry, in particular, has seen a huge potential in OLEDs. For instance, very soon Audi will be coming up with OLED taillights. At present Audi has presented prototypes of the taillights. At the LOPEC Congress, Audi provides advanced insights into the needs of the automotive industry that the deployment of OLEDs will require to meet, and the future of automotive lighting.
So far, there have been plenty of developments. At LOPEC, Audi demonstrated prototypes of their OLED taillights, which they claim have reached production stage. However, using OLEDs in vehicles has always been a challenge, although OLED lighting installations and table lamps have been around for a while, and these are in use in museums, clubs, and restaurants.
Difficulties of Using OLED in Automobiles
Major hurdles OLEDs have to cross when in use in automobiles are they have to withstand humidity, heat, cold, UV radiation, and constant vibration. All these can reduce the life span of OLEDs drastically. Audi claims to have solved this problem by encapsulating their displays hermetically, which they claim will make the displays as stable as LEDs.
Why Use OLED in Place of LEDs?
Regular LEDs act as point sources of light, and it requires substantial development work for generating an even light from them. On the other hand, OLEDs are evenly radiating sources of light, and they naturally produce a uniform illumination. Moreover, their thickness is only about a millimeter, which makes OLEDs more suitable for automotive design.
Designers find OLED appearance is high quality, both when off and on. This is because it has a simple and clean surface. As design is an important aspect of the automotive industry, it makes OLEDs ideal for such use. Most automobile owners expect a certain lifestyle from their vehicles, apart from its functional use of transportation from point A to point B.
However, for use as turn signals and brake lights, the light intensity from OLEDs is not adequate, and will have to be increased. The automotive industry is also working on using flexible OLEDs. At present many are using glass-based OLEDs, but these are rigid, and using plastic foil substrates as the base for OLED is opening up a whole new world of opportunities for the designers.
Audi is expecting LOPEC will open up a huge bandwidth of business and research institutes for them. They expect to hold discussions with specialists using this breadth of activity, and to meet other OLED manufacturers and materials developers.
What the Future Holds?
In about a decade from now, the world will be witnessing innovations in vehicle lighting that most can only dream about today. As it is, a vehicle’s lighting system already functions as a form of communication—hazard lights, turn signals, brake lights, for example. In the future, driverless cars will need to interact with others on the road with even greater sophistication. One of the visions Audi has is of a three-dimensional OLED display extending the entire tail of the vehicle, on the panel of the body, and integrated OLED within the windshield.