Researchers at the University of Michigan and Princeton University have developed more-efficient OLED lighting:
Energy efficiency and flexible lighting applications have long been the promise of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The technology hasn’t lived up to its promise, however, because in typical OLEDs, only 20 percent of the light generated is released from the device. That means that most light is trapped inside the bulb, making it highly inefficient.
The new technology boosts illumination by 60 percent by using micro-lenses to guide the trapped light out of the device:
In OLEDs, white light is generated by using electricity to send an electron into nanometer-thick layers of organic materials that behave like semiconductor materials. Typically, the light in the substrate is internally reflected and runs parallel and not perpendicular. That’s the crux of the problem because the light can’t escape in the vertical direction without some coaxing. In Forrest’s devices, the grids refract the trapped light, sending it to the five micrometers dome-shaped micro lenses. The light is sent off in a vertical orientation that helps release the trapped rays.
Forrest and his coworkers report that the technology emits about 70 lumens from a watt of power. In comparison, incandescent lightbulbs emit 15 lumens per watt. Fluorescent lights put out roughly 90 lumens of light per watt but have liabilities: they produce harsh light, lack longevity, and use environment-damaging substances like mercury.