General Electric Develops Flexible Paper-Thin OLED Technology

GE Envisions Flexible, Thin OLED Lighting Applications

by Anton Shilov
07/06/2009 | 11:06 PM

General Electric recently said it had managed to develop energy-efficient light source of the future: flexible, paper-thin, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). GE also said that its collaboration with industrial design students from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) show how limitless lighting design and application will become in the years ahead. GE claims that the first concept products may emerge already in 2010 or 2011.


“OLEDs hold great promise as the next big lighting technology for both commercial and residential use. Many of these potential applications conceived by the CIA students align nicely with what lighting designers, architects and other thought leaders have told us they want to accomplish with OLEDs,” said John Strainic, global product general manager of lighting at GE Consumer & Industrial.

GE challenged the students to conceptualize designs that would take advantage of two key attributes that commercialized GE OLEDs are expected to feature: flexibility and thinness. This contrasts with the rigid glass form that other companies appear to be pursuing.

Concealed, under-shelf lighting for retailers, flexible signage for advertisers, illuminated stairs for architects, light-up wallpaper for decorators and illuminated safety outerwear for emergency services personnel are just some of the real-world applications that the CIA students envisioned for GE. The CIA students delivered hundreds of concepts that are now under review with product management and researchers at the company’s Nela Park facility in Cleveland and at its Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. GE projects its first commercialized OLED products will be introduced in late 2010 or 2011.

The students’ imaginative perspectives take center stage in a video that GE debuted at LightFair International 2009, a global lighting industry trade show held in New York City in May. It is viewable here and here.