LG Chem Buys Dow/DuPont’s Soluble OLED Business
April 08, 2019
LG Chemannounced it has acquired the assets of DuPont’ssoluble OLED business, which it will add to its display materials product line-up. The deal price was not given but expected to be between $175m and $275m and includes over 500 material and process patents, Dupont R&D facilities, and Dupont’s SOLAB OLED material portfolio, although we cannot yet quantify how much of Dupont’s OLED product offerings are included in the deal. Dupont currently produces red, green, and blue fluorescent emitters and phosphorescent host materials, along with a number of other OLED stack materials, however LG Chem’s interest lies in DuPont’s process and IP relating to OLED emitter soluble materials for use in ink-jet printing, which is being trialed as a way to improve large panel OLED production costs and efficiency. LG Chem is well known for its battery business and provides a number of display films including barrier and encapsulant films used in OLED displays and will now be able to supply soluble OLED materials as part of its advanced materials division.
While the underlying reasoning behind LG Chem’s acquisition are masked by bland press release wording, the decision is likely to have been made in consultation with LG Display, which has been running a Gen 8.5 ink-jet printing pilot line and could end up testing the concept before a Gen 10.5 Paju installation is advanced. The use of ink-jet printing has been deterred by soluble material’s shorter lifetimes than comparable evaporative OLED emitter materials, lower efficiency and color gamut limitations. JOLED is the only panel maker using IJP for commercial panels and they use polymer material on a Gen 4.5 Fab. The polymer material need to be enhanced by a color filter in order to meet the color spec even though individual sub-pixels are printed, reducing the luminance with the secondary effect of shorter lifetimes.
DuPont has had a long history of developing soluble materials, originally competing with CDT in polymers and trying to build PMOLEDs. Then they switched to developing small molecule soluble material and acquired a license from UDC to make phosphorescent emitters. They were reported to have a reasonable blue soluble material, but it never met display specs nor was it adopted by any display makers. The organization invested hundreds of millions with no return, so the sale is of little solace and an attempt by the newly established conglomerate to stop the bleeding. LG Chem is a powerhouse in providing common layers for OLED displays but producing soluble emitters that meet display specs is clearly a work in progress and we are hopeful that LG Chem can provide “solutions” currently unavailable from Merck, Sumitomo or DuPont.
OLED-Info reported that Universal Display's RGBB architecture is back on the table - and the company now highlights the architecture's low blue light emission. UDC seems more optimistic than ever regarding blue PHOLED commercialization. RGBB is essentially two blues; one phosphorescent emitter with low lifetime and efficiency when fully saturated blue is required and one sky blue phosphorescent emitter with higher lifetimes and efficacies, when less intense shades of blue are required. UDC had pushed this approach a few years ago but got little interest, so we wonder what has changed to reinvigorate the idea.