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Architecture-Friendly Organic Light-Emitting Diodes Studied in Demonstration

First DOE tests on emerging technology take place at Aurora Lighting Design, Inc.

May 2016
Architecture-Friendly Organic Light-Emitting Diodes Studied in Demonstration
Offices of Aurora Lighting Design, Inc., showing the Trilia™ lighting system. (Photo courtesy of Acuity Brands.)

Organic lighting-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, are used today for television and cell phone displays, but this breakthrough technology is new to office lighting. So when Aurora Lighting Design, Inc. elected to take a chance on OLEDs in their office space, DOE’s GATEWAY program followed up to learn about the experience and perform their first field measurements on OLED lighting.

Like LEDs, OLEDs are a solid-state device that emits light. Rather than light being emitted as an electron moves within the small diode, OLEDs have an emissive layer made up of organic compounds that is applied to the panel surface of two or more semiconductor layers.

OLEDs are thinner than LEDs, resulting in a shallow profile that lends itself well to creative designs. Occupants in Aurora Lighting Design’s offices found themselves inspired by the new lighting installation, and reported they were pleased with its visual comfort and color quality.

Follow-up testing by PNNL’s Naomi Miller showed some discrepancies with illuminance and other metrics, leading to the discovery of two incorrect drivers that could have shortened panel life. These were replaced in February 2016. Some of the successes and challenges with Aurora’s OLED installation are summarized below and described more fully in the GATEWAY report issued in March.

GATEWAY demonstrations, supported by DOE’s Solid State Lighting (SSL) program, facilitate a hands-on experience for evaluating SSL products. High-performance LED and OLED products are tested in real-world situations that cannot be replicated in a lab, providing valuable information on product performance and cost effectiveness.

Successes:

  • The OLED system has a shallow profile that works well with low-ceiling space and offers comfortable ambient light, with warm color and very good color rendering.
  • The exposed OLED panels deliver soft, minimal-shadow lighting that makes faces and expressions visible and increases room brightness.

Challenges:

  • The drivers were too large to be incorporated above the ceiling, so they had to be remote-mounted in an adjacent space. This required pulling large numbers of wires through shallow joist space to multiple mounting points.
  • There are few dedicated OLED drivers on the market, so Aurora Lighting Design’s OLED system was equipped with LED drivers, which lowered system efficacy.
  • The new report provides valuable market feedback to manufacturers. OLED lighting is in its infancy compared to LED lighting, but the architectural market is taking notice. If OLEDs continue to increase in efficacy, longevity, size, and flexibility, designers and engineers will have a new tool for energy efficient, creative, and effective lighting.


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