Wherever more and more areas of life are being digitised, the range of applications for tiny, yet powerful displays is increasing. High-contrast “OLED microdisplays” are predestined for integration in head-up systems or wearables. They can be used as assistance systems in industry, in logistics to display warehouse information on a cap or helmet, or in visibility-restricted environments, for example in disaster control, to help improve orientation and navigation. In such augmented reality scenarios, in addition to a power-saving design of the system, it is important that the displays are bright enough to function under daylight conditions and that information is visible to the naked eye.
The OLED microdisplay family of the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has grown in this respect. The microdisplays in the new design were presented for the first time in mid-May at the SID Display Week in San José, USA. The OLED microdisplay portfolio now ranges from full-colour video displays with 1-inch screen diagonals to 0.2-inch small ultra-low-current microdisplays. Further development of the ultra-low power variants, which are particularly suitable for use in wearables, was also advanced. Specifically, the 720p display was upgraded to high brightness, which is necessary for use in AR applications and optical systems under daylight conditions. The 720p full-colour microdisplays now reach brightness levels of up to 1,000 nits; the dual-colour version reaches 5,000 nits. (A nit indicates how much light is beamed onto a square metre of surface. Televisions, for example, have brightnesses of 200 to 500 nits).
Bernd Richter, Head of Department Organic Microelectronic Devices at Fraunhofer FEP, explains how the improvements were achieved: “Technologically, this increase in brightness was achieved by developing new OLED stacks. The use of different filter technologies allows us to be able to implement a good compromise for matching brightness and display content depending on the application.” Philipp Wartenberg, Head of Department IC and System Design, adds: “With this extension of the portfolio, Fraunhofer FEP offers a unique selection of microdisplays for a wide variety of optical and system integrations. The displays differ not only in size, but also in circuit topologies. If there is no suitable microdisplay in our portfolio or the customer has special requirements for the control, we will develop these for him on a customer-specific basis.”
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