Samsung ready to roll with organic LEDs

The Korean manufacturer says it will be producing 50 million OLED screens by 2008

Samsung is gearing up to start mass-producing screens based on its OLED technology early next year.

The screens are self-luminous organic materials and so require a third less power than TFT and LCD screens, which use conventional thin-film transistor liquid crystal displays. Response times are quicker too — according to the company the screens have a response time of 1 microsecond, 1,000 times faster than TFT-LCD screens.

Samsung first announced the new technology last year, when it showed off a 17-inch prototype. Epson announced a 40-inch prototype screen around the same time, but this product is not expected to launch until 2007.

The company announced on Monday that it plans to produce a range of sizes, including 2-inch, 8.4-inch, 15.1-inch, and 15.5-inch screens, according to The Korea Herald.

Samsung makes its OLED displays using a transfer technology in which a pattern of plastic pixels is printed on the screen by scanning a laser across a set of organic films.

The company said it will invest £260m in the next year to get the infrastructure in place for mass production in the second half of 2006. It hopes to chip 20 million units in 2007, rising to 50 million by 2008.

OLEDs have the theoretical potential to replace LCDs, CRTs and other display technologies, thanks to their greater efficiency, easier production, more physical flexibility and lower cost — in theory, at any rate.

To date, however, problems with device lifetime, chemistry and production have limited their use to mobile devices and backlights. Samsung's basic OLED technology was licensed from Kodak and developed in conjunction with NEC, which sold its stake in the joint venture to Samsung at the beginning of 2004.