UK OLED lighting start-up PolyPhotonix is to build its first production line in County Durham.
“We are looking to generate revenue through sales within a three-year business plan,” CEO Richard Kirk told Electronics Weekly. “We are not a research company. We are going to demonstrate how to make three million units at high yield, high performance and high efficiency.”
The production line is to be installed in the clean room of the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) in Sedgefield. It will produce lighting panels using OLED intellectual property licensed from CDT in Cambridge.
Kirk is in “advanced talks” towards a £3m funding round which will pay for the production line and 30 months of operations.
The firm already has some funding through the Government’s Technology Strategy Board through a project called Manufacturing Emissive Nanotechnology Devices in Polymers (MENDIPs).
Other partners in the MENDIPs consortium are Japanese car interior maker Sanko Gosei and the County Durham-based Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), which owns PETEC.
PolyPhotonix’ intended main markets are automotive and architectural lighting, but Kirk also expects some interest from makers of general lighting products.
The production line will initially make its OLED emitters on 200x200mm glass substrates. “We are taking the best materials as they are today,” said Kirk.
Flexible plastic substrates are also on the cards once glass-based emitters are in production.
Existing AC electroluminescent (ACEL) emissive technology on flexible substrates has caused a stir among car designers for interior and exterior lighting.
OLEDs are easier to power, potentially brighter, and can already compete with ACEL where flat rigid luminairs are required.
Once barrier coatings are available to keep moisture away from the emissive materials within flexible OLEDs, OLEDs will be a strong contender for the whole ACEL market.
“Given even a sub-standard barrier, polymer OLEDs have a longer life than AC electroluminescent emitters – 3,500 hours at reasonable intensity,” said Kirk. “They are already up to tens of thousands of hours with a good barrier.”