Audi to demo OLED exterior lighting at IAA

July 29, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After several years of experimentation with OLED lighting, carmaker Audi will showcase at the upcoming IAA motor show what it calls the next step in lighting – a Matrix OLED rear light.

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. OLED lighting unit, two electrodes of which at least one needs to be made of a transparent material enclose multiple layers of organic semiconducting material. A low DC voltage – typically between 3 and 4 V – brings the layers to light. The colour of the light is determined by the nature of the molecules. In contrast to punctiform light sources such as conventional semiconductor LEDs, OLEDs are creating an even, diffuse light of high homogeneity. OLEDs can be dimmed continuously and do not need reflectors, light guides or similar optical components. As a result, OLED units are efficient and lightweight. In addition, they need much less cooling efforts than standard LEDs.

In its lighting lab, Audi is continuing to developing OLEDs for automotive applications. The company said that if the luminance can be further increased, OLEDs will soon be able to be used for the turn signal and the stoplight. Today, the enclosure for the organic material is made of glass; it soon can be replaced by plastic material which is cheaper and more easy to cast into different shapes. These new flexible carrier materials then can be moulded in three dimensions, opening a host of new design options.

Another advantage of OLEDs from the perspective of carmakers is that they can be divided into small segments that can be driven to different brightness; in addition, they can exhibit different colours as well as transparent OLED units, enabling new lighting scenarios with extremely fast transitions and with illuminated subareas that are separated from each other very precisely. These properties make the OLED technology an ideal candidate for future matrix illuminations that complement existing matrix LED and matrix laser headlight technologies.

Audi’s OLED exhibits at the IAA are characterised as a study. “It won’t be in series vehicles so soon”, a company spokesperson said. “You should not expect it to be in series