GE - Plastics and GE Global Research developed a substrate system for flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). The system features a developmental high-temperature Lexan polycarbonate (PC) film from the company combined with a transparent, ultra-high-barrier coating to help protect the OLED device against oxygen and moisture.
The research, which is jointly funded by the company and the U.S. Display Consortium (USDC), is designed to address the critical need for plastic substrates that can enable cost-effective, lightweight, flexible organic displays. The new substrate system is currently being produced in batch mode and will ultimately be moved to a roll-to-roll process for cost efficiency.
According to the company, its development of a flexible plastic replacement for the glass substrates used in OLEDs is expected to open the door to new applications such as portable, rugged, and roll-up displays. Fabricating an OLED on a plastic substrate instead of glass reportedly offers a number of design and usage benefits. A plastic substrate is rugged, lighter in weight, easier to transport, and suitable for high-volume manufacturing that can lower systems costs. The flexibility offered is said to enable new display designs and configurations not currently envisioned in current rigid displays. The coating system utilizes the high temperature resistance and high clarity of transparent Lexan film—properties that enable the 125-micron-thick substrate to withstand the heat involved in OLED fabrication and to allow optimal light transmission from the device. The unique graded organic/inorganic barrier coating, which is applied using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, meets the stringent requirements for fabricating OLEDs. The transparent coating prevents degradation of the device from oxygen, moisture, chemicals, and electrical conductivity while promoting light transmission. With funding from USDC, the company says it will focus on optimizing roll-to-roll barrier coating processes and evaluate the economic feasibility of its coated plastic substrate system in a wide variety of display applications. www.geplastics.com