University of Rochester

Researchers Receive U.S. Department of Energy Grant to Increase Light Output from OLEDs

June 29, 2011

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are expected to revolutionize the screens used on computers, televisions, and other electronic devices. Two University of Rochester chemists, one of whom invented the OLED, are now trying to give them a role in the next generation of energy-efficient lighting.

While OLEDs are giving consumers brighter and faster electronic displays, a great deal of light is wasted within each diode. "Right now," said Chemistry Professor Lewis Rothberg, "Eighty percent of the light is trapped within the diode." Rothberg is working with Ching Tang, who invented the OLED while employed at Eastman Kodak Company, to drastically improve the light-emitting performance of the diodes.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the researchers $1.3 million dollars for a three-year effort to increase the light output of OLEDs by 3 1/2 times. It's one of eight grants being distributed nationally to help develop the next generation of high-efficiency, solid-state lighting technologies.

Rothberg and Tang, the Doris Johns Cherry Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Chemistry, will try to make the light within OLEDs scatter randomly, with most of it being captured by metal rods within the diodes. If they are successful, OLEDs could one day replace fluorescent and incandescent bulbs in homes and workplaces.

The Rochester scientists are partnering with eMagin, a virtual imaging company with a manufacturing facility located in Fishkill, N.Y.