Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) are a similar to the long-lasting, high-efficiency LED lights becoming more common in homes, but with even cooler applications.

An OLED can be flat, paper thin and flexible. Their appeal stems from the ability to diffuse light. While a traditional light receives electricity through a wire and is emitted by a single source, OLEDs use organic dye between two flat semiconductors to spread the light across a larger space. Their warm, distributed glow is less harsh than bight LEDs thanks to dimmers or added color.

Panels can be assembled and even stretched into unique displays, such as one interactive wall by Philips, revealing application for OLEDs in architectural design, public spaces, film and even sculpture in addition to traditional indoor and outdoor light fixtures. The technology is already being used in OLED TVs, the next step from the LED TV to slightly better picture via backlight distribution only to parts of the screen that need it. A drawback here is that, like many of OLEDs applications, it uses slightly more energy than LED.

In efficiency, the OLED typically falls somewhere between the CFL and LED bulb, making them greener than most alternatives. High efficiency OLED panels are now being developed and sold by big names like LG. What makes this light even more sustainable is that it contains no mercury, unlike CFLs. Finally, OLEDs are permanent—Edison’s two to six month incandescent lifespan is forever replaced. This means the panels can be incorporated directly into new construction, enabling deeper considerations for lighting in design. In the typical existing home still using CFLs, OLEDs could one day save anywhere from 5 to 15 trashed light bulbs per year from ending up electronic waste.

While it may be a few years before OLEDs lamps make their way into most homes, a recent article from Treehugger introduces the first OLED light fixture from Aerelight. The sleek desk lamp by designers Michael Halender and Ray Kwa incorporates the OLED directly into the fixture and even includes a wireless phone charger.

The future is looking mighty bright.

Watch the video about the Aerelight OLED lamp here:


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