OLED materials specialist gets funds, adds CEO - Embedded.com

OLED materials specialist gets funds, adds CEO

LONDON — OLED-T, a U.K. developer and manufacturer of organic light emitting diode (OLED) materials and device structures, has raised £3.8million (around $7 million) in venture capital funding and started an executive recrutiment drive.

OLED-T (Enfiield and Uxbridge, England) has been formed from the assets of ELAM-T which was formed in 1999 and had previously raised nearly £7million in VC investment. The company says the change of name reflects the focus on the development and commercialization of OLED technology. Prof Poopathy Kathirgamanathan, who was Chair of Electronic Materials at London South Bank University where the OLED material research work was carried out from 1993 to 1998 and who founded ELAM-T, is CTO of the company.

OLED-T will use the investment to fund a new research and development (R&D) facility in the U.K. and to bolster its executive management team and has already recruited Myrddin Jones to be Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Jones was previously General Manager at Hitachi Europe’s Display Products Group where he had responsibility for implementing Hitachi’s display product strategy across Europe and has had over 25 years experience in research and development (R&D) and market development for display businesses.

“OLED is the hottest technology in the display industry now and in the immediate future, and OLED-T is the most exciting early stage company in the OLED market. My brief is to commercialize OLED-T’s world beating OLED material by engaging with display manufacturers”, said Jones.

At Hitachi Jones managed annual revenues of Euro100 million for the company's European Display Products Group and grew the company’s European display sales to European mobile phone, industrial and automotive equipment manufacturers – some of the main application areas being targeted by OLEDs.

OLED-T develops, manufactures and licenses high efficiency, long life-time materials known as ELAMATES for OLED displays. The ELAMATE materials are said to provide efficiency improvements of up to 80 per cent over competitive materials, and lifetimes of as much as three times that of competitive OLED materials. The company designs three of the key materials used is OLED manufacture – or the electron transport layer, organic emitters and hole injection layer. OLED-T says it has been successful in extending the display lifetime for blue to over 20 000 hours to match that of the red and green elements.

ELAMATES are suitable for use in both 'Passive Matrix' and 'Active Matrix' products. While the passive are today’s OLED technology, enabling small area, low resolution displays to be manufactured cost effectively for applications such as MP3 players, mobile phone sub-displays, active matrix is seen as tomorrow’s OLED technology, enabling large area, high resolution displays to be manufactured for applications such mobile phone main displays, PDAs, and GPS navigation units. Large area displays are set to significantly increase demand for materials.

The new investment will enable OLED-T to expand is existing U.K. research and development (R&D) operation by opening a new custom-built chemistry facility to enable it to scale up its material production. The company has already invested £1million in advanced machinery for device development.

Display market research and consulting group, DisplaySearch, has reported that the OLED industry reached revenues of over $500 million in 2005 and forecast revenues of more than $4.6 billion in 2010 – around 10% of the component TAM values is for the materials.

OLED will be the fastest growing non-LCD display technology and is said to have several inherent advantages compared to LCDs. They are 50% of the thickness and 70% of the weight and provide a 20% reduction lower power consumption. They are visible from every direction with no color shift and have a 10x faster switching speed to provide improved moving image performance. They provide a 40% bigger color range resulting in stronger, more vivid colors with a contrast of greater that 1000:1 resulting in a vibrant display image with potential for millions of colors.

The company has filed over 60 patents in the area of OLED materials and device structures and sells its materials directly to OLED display manufacturers primarily in Asia. OLED-T are working with 11 global display manufacturers which have evaluated several of its materials in laboratory and production environments and pre-production with major companies in Japan, Korea and Taiwan is being implemented this year with full scale volume commercial adoption by the first customer planned for 2007. It has established relationship with two sub-contract manufacturers in the U.K. and one in the U.S. who can manufacture up to 100kg per month of its materials.

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