Low-Cost Roll Process for Flexible & Rigid Glass OLED Lighting Substrates: Providing Encapsulation-Ready Enhanced Light Extraction and a Smooth Current Spreading Conductor

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Lead Performer: MicroContinuum – Watertown, MA
Partner: Iowa State University – Ames, IA
DOE Total Funding: $199,913
Project Term: July 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021
Funding Type: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Project


OLED lighting has long suffered from poor light output efficiency, and while numerous approaches have been pursued in order to improve this situation, they are generally neither easy to implement nor cost-effective. This project overcomes that barrier by addressing key challenges for OLED lighting: high cost, poor light extraction, low-conductivity electrodes, and long-term device stability.

The project’s goal is to develop a multifunctional substrate for OLED deposition that will enable the creation of more-efficient and higher-performance devices. This will be accomplished using 1) a nanoforming process to create nanostructures designed to extract trapped light, and 2) a nanopatterning process to create a metal mesh layer that is both highly transparent and highly conductive. The light-extraction and anode-formation processes will be combined in a novel “decal transfer” process in which all of these structures are formed on a donor film and then transferred to a glass or flexible-plastic receiving substrate for subsequent OLED deposition and finishing. The multifunctional substrate process has been intrinsically designed for roll-to-roll scalability, promising high-volume and low-cost manufacturing.


A low-cost, high-performance substrate for OLED lighting would be a major breakthrough for reducing the cost barrier for OLED adoption. Further, the proposed metal mesh anode could allow for highly efficient large-area OLEDs with excellent uniformity.


DOE Technology Manager: Brian Walker, brian.walker@ee.doe.gov  
Lead Performer: W. Dennis Slafer, MicroContinuum