Bringing OLED lighting technology to everyone
Imagine if windows could bring light into your home at night, not just during the day. And what if those transparent panes of glass could automatically light up in the evenings so you would no longer have to rely solely on internal light fittings? Perhaps you could even cheer up a cloudy day indoors by adjusting the brightness of your windows…
It’s by exploring future possibilities like these that REHAU is reimagining the future of lighting. Working alongside over a dozen specialist partner companies, REHAU is developing innovative OLED technologies which create lighting formats that are bendable, ultrathin, and even transparent.
"In this project, REHAU is venturing into the world of printed electronics. Using our know-how in the processing of polymer materials, we are able to integrate OLED films into edgebands and profiles," explains Dr. Constanze Ranfeld, Corporate Research & Development / Advanced Technologies at REHAU.
Some of REHAU’s biggest developments in this exciting new field come as part of being a core member of Lyteus, a European program which exists to quickly and cost-effectively bring energy-saving OLED lighting products to market. Within the consortium, REHAU has the specialist role of validating pilot line products alongside AUDI AG, Pilkington and Emde.
The potential applications for creative OLED lighting are vast. In aircraft design, for example, curved profiles could help light up aircraft cabins more evenly, potentially helping passengers more rapidly adjust their body clocks to different daylight times during their flight.
Other concepts in development include bold new safety features for vehicles. REHAU’s Smart Backend project is designing intelligent vehicle rear ends that are equipped with advanced lighting and sensors to improve safety. “When a vehicle can communicate visually with its surroundings, the safety of the driver and passengers, as well as of those outside the vehicle, may be improved,” said Dr. Ranfeld.
As with any radical, future-facing project, the team must overcome significant commercialization obstacles before the technology is ready for the mass market. "OLEDs could become the dominant lights of the future. At this stage we need to prove the technology can scale-up so we can reach commercially viable price points for markets around the world," Ranfeld emphasizes.
In keeping with the long tradition at REHAU, our inventors are optimistic about the potential applications for OLED lighting and innovative polymer profiles. For this project there’s no waiting around for light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, we’re working hard to create perfectly even, energy-efficient, bendable light, both through the tunnel and out the other side!
Lyteus is an initiative of the Photonics Public Private Partnership, co-founded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The group helps evolve clever ideas into fully commercialised flexible OLED lighting products. Lyteus works with specialist partners like REHAU to develop breakthrough lighting solutions for the automotive, aeronautics and designer luminaires sectors.