2007 marked a turning point in the worldwide display market, in that more liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) were sold than traditional tube TV sets.
The market research institute DisplaySearch estimates that by 2015 around 90% of all display elements sold will be LCDs. Forecasts such as these are encouraging and inspiring an entire industry because modern flat-screen TV and computer screens, as well as the displays of mobile devices such as notebooks, cellphones and MP3 players, require background illumination which is provided by LEDs or organic LEDs (OLEDs). Market research institute iSuppli has forecast that the current LED market volume in this application alone will increase from $6 billion to $12,3 billion by 2012.
However, background illumination is not the only driving-force behind the OLED market. Rapidly coming to the fore are new, environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient, reliable and colour-flexible signalling, lighting and illumination concepts in industry, through to applications in housing and building engineering, as well as the increasing number of OLED applications in modern cars.
The technological trends for displays and OLEDs and their power supply will be highlighted at electronica 2008, a leading international trade fair for electronic components, systems and applications, which will be held in Munich from 11 to 14 November this year.
The display boom is creating, in particular, demand for high-brightness (HB) LEDs. iSuppli estimates that the market for HB-LEDs was worth $3,7 billion in 2006 and expects it to double in volume to more than $7 billion by 2010.
This in turn is fuelling demand for HB LED driver products with which several LEDs can be controlled simultaneously or very high light efficiency is possible. Strategies Unlimited is anticipating that this market - worth $865 million in 2006 - will increase to $1,9 billion by 2011.
The beneficiaries of this boom are exhibiting companies such as Texas Instruments, with LED drivers for controlling high-resolution video display screens, and National Semiconductor, with high-current LED flash drivers or special online LED development tools which can reduce designs of LED power management solutions from weeks to minutes. A large number of technology leaders will also present their solutions at electronica 2008, for example Linear Technology with an integrated BIAS and white light LED voltage transformer solution for small to medium-sized TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD panels and STMicroelectronics, whose product range includes constant current LED drivers with an automatic energy-saving function.
LEDs are also making inexorable advances in the automobile industry. They are used as efficient and anti-dazzle background illumination for dashboards and, as brake lights, replace conventional white light bulbs, as well as halogen and xenon lamps. Market researchers such as IMS Research estimated worldwide sales of LEDs in the automobile industry at $650 million in 2006; this is expected to double to $1,3 billion by 2016.
The demand due to prescribed daytime driving lights in an increasing number of countries will lead to a growth explosion with LEDs in this sector from $5 million in 2007 to over $100 million in 2013. This will also benefit Osram Opto Semiconductors, one of the leading companies in the industry and an exhibitor at electronica 2008. The company's LEDs are already used, for example, as full headlights in a new SUV from Cadillac.
Companies such as Optrex also provide a 'clearer view' behind the steering wheel. Optrex's transparent signage displays are based on OLEDs which are integrated in the windscreen and conveniently supply information and warnings. Their high efficiency, wide range of colours and now also their increasing durability are making versatile OLEDs attractive for more and more applications, ranging from a brightly coloured iPhone display through to the new 11-inch Sony OLED television.
OLEDs are also becoming more important as regards illumination: Osram has already achieved a service life of more than 5000 hours for warm white OLEDs with a brightness of 1000 cd/m². Luminous tiles, LED wallpaper and luminous partitions therefore no longer seem far-fetched ideas.
Visitors to electronica 2008 will be able to obtain a clear impression of the numerous advantages and application areas of OLEDs on the large number of exhibition stands. New stand concepts will be formulated up to November 2008 in which lighting no longer comes from excessively heat-generating light bulbs, but from power-saving, energy-efficient LED light sources.
For more information visit www.electronica.de/en