OLED Display Panel Technology | Consumer Electronics | Corning

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LCD vs. OLED: A #GlassAge Debate

Tech observers and investors revel in lively discussions about the latest, greatest gadget and whose bottom line will get the greatest bounce. They enjoy debating the intricacies and details of materials that contribute to these devices, and the related trends and developments.  For us at Corning, materials innovators for 165 years, it’s been great to see a recent uptick in discussions about OLED versus LCD display panel technology - a genuine #GlassAge debate.

Corning.com staff sat down with Mike Kunigonis, business director for Corning’s High Performance Displays Group, to understand key differences between OLED and LCD display technology.

Corning.com:  Thanks for your time today, Mike. Let’s start with a key question:  In the context of display panels, how does OLED technology work and what are the main differences between it and LCD technology?

MK: OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, or Organic LED.  It’s an alternative to LCDs for consumer electronic devices that range in size from wearable to TVs. Like LCD, OLED is a type of panel that enables the displays on device screens. An OLED display picture is generated by turning on and off millions of tiny individual LEDs, each forming the individual pixels of a display. Compare this to LCD, where an always-on backlight projects light through a liquid crystal, sandwiched between two pieces of glass. When the liquid crystal is excited by an electrical current, it lets the light of an individual pixel pass through like a shutter. LCD and OLED display panels both excel at delivering vibrant consumer displays, each in its own unique way.  

Corning.com: We’ve heard industry analysts with varying opinions on the benefits an OLED device offers. So why would a consumer prefer a device with an OLED display over an LCD display?

MK: Adoption of OLED displays on smaller, mobile devices is the driver behind most of today’s OLED industry growth, so let me focus on that. A handheld OLED display is attractive to consumers because of the industrial design and display attributes that this technology can support. For example, OLED displays can be curved, or be thinner, or have narrower bezels – or no bezels at all – or flex and bend.  Plus, an OLED display will be a great solution for virtual reality applications because it can provide high resolution and superior response time and latency.

Corning.com: Does this mean LCD is being replaced by OLED in the consumer electronics market?

MK: No. Both OLED and LCD displays can offer tremendous benefits – depending on the required attributes – and we expect both to coexist for many years to come. In fact, one of the big trends in consumer electronics is high resolution. Today, LCD is advantaged in creating low-cost, high-resolution devices.

Corning.com:   Earlier you outlined some of OLED’s industrial design benefits, like curved displays and even devices that flex or bend. What is the role of glass in devices with these unique designs?

MK:   Glass plays a very important role in manufacturing devices that use flexible OLED display panels. While flexible OLED displays use a plastic substrate rather than glass, they require a high-performance, display-quality carrier glass to stabilize the plastic substrate through the demanding high-resolution manufacturing process, which is why Corning is interested in this flexible OLED market.  

Corning.com: Now that we have an understanding of LCD and OLED technology, what is Corning’s role in enabling these display panels?

MK:  Bottom line, OLED and LCD both require high-performance display glass for panels to deliver the performance attributes consumers take for granted today. Each of the three macro trends I mentioned – high resolution, industrial design, and virtual reality – requires specialized glass. Corning offers a specialty glass solution designed to best address these macro trends: Corning Lotus™ NXT Glass. With its balanced set of glass attributes, Lotus NXT Glass plays a key role in high-performance LCD and OLED devices. Corning continues to offer advantaged materials in this space, and as display technologies advance, our capabilities are expanding to meet their evolving requirements.

Corning.com: Thanks so much, Mike.