Fraunhofer FEP and Nippon Steel Demonstrate Flexible Stainless Steel Substrates for OLED Lighting
October 17, 2017
Fraunhofer FEP, Nippon Steel & Sumikin Materials Co., Ltd. and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation have prototyped OLED light panels using a paper-thin translucent stainless steel foil as the substrate. For several years now, stainless steel foil has been used in thin-film photovoltaics and batteries, and the substrate has proven to be viable for flexible electronic components. Compared to more conventional substrate materials such as glass or plastic web, stainless steel offers a better thermal conductivity. Thanks to a roll-to-roll compatible planarization layer developed by NSSMC, the good thermal conductivity of stainless steel makes it suitable for homogenous large-area OLED lighting surfaces supporting current densities over 10 mA/cm². Stainless steel also provides excellent barrier properties against environmental influences, effectively protecting OLEDs from water vapor and oxygen. Jun Nakatsuka, Manager of Business Development at NSMAT estimates that within three years, OLEDs designed on a stainless steel substrate could make their way into cars, as turn indicator and back-up lights, as cladding for fascia, and as advertising displays. The collaboration with NSMAT and NSSMC helped Fraunhofer FEP work out quality standards necessary for the future OLED fabrication, including the surface properties of the substrate.
Figure 1: OLED Light on Stainless Steel Backplane