The Present and Future of OLED Materials Development

October 13,2016

On Sept. 22, 2016, at the Global Materials Tech Fair in Seoul, hosted by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology and the Electronic Times, more than 600 industry professionals and universities attended, sharing their outlook on the electronic and OLED materials industries, including ideas to build an ecosystem that will brighten Korea’s future manufacturing industry.

During the event, Dai-Kyu Kim, senior R&D manager for OLED Materials in Display Technologies at Dow Electronic Materials, delivered a lecture on the present and future of organic light emitting diode (OLED) materials development. In his presentation, Kim addressed the market outlook for OLEDs and the evolution of OLED displays. He also looked back at Dow’s contribution to the growth of the OLED display industry, then provided his outlook on the current OLED materials developments, as well as technologies that will be needed in the future.

Kim kicked off by talking about Dow’s commitment to Asia and the company’s focus on localization. Korea serves as an excellent example, as the company has local sales, manufacturing and R&D organizations to enhance product development and allow for close cooperation with its customers.

Next, Kim addressed the global display market, which, although it experienced declines in 2015 and 2016, is expected to turn around, with an average growth rate of 4% in 2017. Although the past few years have been slow, the global OLED market is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 21%, reaching $32 billion in 2020.

Kim then turned to Dow’s focus on OLED materials development, including red and green host materials, prime materials and hole blocking layer (HBL) materials. He pointed out that compared with the OLED stack structure in early days, the latest device structures have become increasingly complex. This means that the materials needed for each layer must enable better performance and offer sustainable technologies.

Dow’s latest development efforts are backed by the company’s long history in the OLED materials market, with innovations that have contributed to the growth of the OLED display industry. Kim noted that the company drove the replacement of fluorescent red with phosphorescent red by developing the industry’s first phosphor materials. And its HBL material, developed in cooperation with customers, was first used when HBL was introduced. He also remarked that Dow is the only commercial producer of materials for red, green and blue host. Dow is actively pursuing a strong materials mix by developing hole transport layer prime materials to optimize and maximize the performance of its host materials.

What does the future hold for OLED materials in the display industry? Kim highlighted how next-generation efforts must focus on replacing blue emitters that still rely on fluorescence in RGB and developing a process solution for large-sized OLED panels beyond mobile applications. To this end, he explained how Dow is actively engaged in materials and process solution development through its Core R&D Center in Midland, while continuing research on next-generation OLED technologies like thermally activated delayed-fluorescent technology through external collaborations.