Fraunhofer develops multicolor OLED microdisplay that consumes the lowest power.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam, and Plasma Technology FEP have developed a multicolor OLED microdisplay that uses the least amount of power of any microdisplay on the market and has a wider range of applications than monochrome displays. The “Backplane” project, supported by the Saxon State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Transport, produced this OLED microdisplay (SMWA, funding reference: 100392259). It will be shown at CES 2022, from January 5 to 8, in Las Vegas, USA, at the Organic Electronics Association (OE-A) joint booth, No. 51139, at the Venetian Expo Center.

Wearables have exploded in popularity. They are used as fitness wristbands to track body values while participating in sports. Manuals are no longer necessary in the industry. Instead, smart glasses are used to display the data. While cycling, navigation takes the form of a small system that sits immediately in front of our eyes and directs us where we want to go. Because you do not want to get off your bike and recharge it in between, these systems must waste extremely little power.

The ultra-low-power microdisplay platform for wearables, which is available from Fraunhofer FEP, is therefore designed for extremely low power consumption and is based on the proven OLED-on-silicon technology. These OLED microdisplays were previously only available in monochrome, which was sufficient for simple information displays at first. In order to expand the range of applications, a multicolor OLED microdisplay has now been researched within the “Backplane” project, which can display the color space of green, red, and their mixed colors, and still requires less power than all other microdisplays.

“We can now offer ultra-low power OLED microdisplays that not only display simple information in yellow, but also convey additional information in the signal colors red and green, for example as a warning display in firefighters´ helmets or for professional divers,” explains Philipp Wartenberg, department head IC and system design at Fraunhofer FEP. “The presentation of sensor data can also be fast and vivid. For example, a welder can always follow the thermal image at a weld seam, or a nurse in protective clothing with integrated sensors can immediately see if the patient has higher temperature. Visualizing heat differences was not possible with the ultra-low power microdisplays that were previously offered.”

Fraunhofer develops multicolor OLED microdisplay that consumes the lowest power.

Wartenberg and his colleagues created an innovative display concept that allows multi-color and higher data rates by reducing the pixel size by half, is also extremely power-efficient, and is manufactured in the hitherto used CMOS technology.

The scientists are now looking forward to discussing the possibilities of the new display generation with industrial customers and adapting them to their requirements. The tiny ultra-low-power OLED microdisplays enable extremely compact systems.

In collaboration with GLOBALFOUNDRIES Dresden, Module One LLC & Co. KG and digades GmbH, Fraunhofer FEP is currently researching a solution for low-power and high-resolution OLED microdisplays and quality cameras. The aim is an ultra-low-power microdisplay backplane architecture in a deep-submicron CMOS process, thus significantly reducing the previously predominant area required by memory components for static RAM (SRAM).

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