OLED-Info has been the leading international OLED publication for over 10 years, with a readership of more than 120,000 professionals a month. OLED-Info provides a multitude of services to the OLED market based on an extensive and up-to-date knowledge hub and close ties with industry leaders. Consultancy services include market outreach assistance, display brokerage, business development, financial intermediation and more.
We spoke to OLED-Info founder and editor-in-chief Ron Mertens about the progress of the graphene industry, the benefits OLEDs offer VR systems and the need for standardization and expansion in the graphene and OLED markets.
Q1. What are the biggest developments in the graphene industry in 2016 and what further developments can we expect before the end of the year?
Ron: I believe that progress in graphene has been slower than expected, but there are a lot of activities in many areas. There is a lot of commercial activity in R&D and the early production of graphene-enhanced composites, and I expect this to continue in the future - so we'll start seeing more and more products enter the market. Graphene-based thermal materials are also of interest and we are seeing more and more activity in such applications. Another area of focus is energy storage - mostly supercapacitors and batteries. Early products should begin to emerge in the near future (hopefully in 2016 indeed!) and this should be exciting to watch.
Q2. How has the use of graphene benefited other industries? Which industry uses the most graphene annually, and what size of the market does it represent?
Ron: I think it's too early to talk about that. As I said composites are already on the market, but I don't think there has been "real" impact on the industry. Same can be said about thermal materials and also about supercapacitors, which are yet to enter the market (besides one company that supplies graphene-enhanced supercapacitors). We are seeing more and more non-graphene research activity that uses graphene as part of the research (for example as neural connectors, coatings, DNA sequencing, etc). Graphene is helping a lot of researchers and developers in their work (which is not directly graphene-related).
Q3. What impact are the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality markets having on the OLED industry? Are you seeing a bigger demand for OLEDs this year because of AR and VR?
Ron: One of the main requirements from a VR display is low persistence (or a high refresh rate) - otherwise the user experience is drastically lower. This is a major advantage of OLED displays over LCDs, and indeed we see that all major VR makers (including Oculus, HTC, Sony and the OSVR) chose OLEDs over LCDs. The VR market is still small compared to the overall OLED market (which is estimated at over 200 million displays per year), so the effect is not yet visible. But analysts expect the VR market to grow very fast in coming years, and I think OLED makers will enjoy this growth. In addition, as VR requires high-end displays it's likely that this will prove very profitable for OLED makers. The AR market is more complicated although some solutions already use OLEDs (for example Epson's latest AR platform).
Q4. What challenges do the graphene and OLED industries face over the next five years, and how will industry leaders respond to these?
Ron: I think the major problems for graphene at this stage are standardization, scalability and capacity, pricing and finding the right applications. Standardization is key as we see companies try a graphene product, find out it does not suit their needs and then come to the conclusion that "graphene is not good for us". But a different graphene product (with different properties or prices) may have been excellent in the same application. There are so many producers making different graphene materials, that this is becoming a very big problem.
The OLED industry is more mature, and it seems that it is currently focused on capacity expansion by Korean, Chinese and Japanese makers. In the next 2-3 years capacity will be increased dramatically, especially as all players are gearing up for Apple's OLED adoption in 2017 or 2018. However, there are still challenges of course. Increasing the efficiency and lifetime of blue emitters is a big challenge that hasn't been solved yet. Lowering production costs by adopting soluble OLED processes (such as Ink-jet printing) is another challenge. Two key markets in which OLEDs are yet to prove their value are the OLED TV market and the OLED lighting ones. In both of these we are still waiting for real champions besides LG Display that will take the market to the next level and promote real adoption.
Q5. What other industry do you find the most interesting outside of the ones you cover? Have you ever considered covering this industry?
Ron: Besides graphene and OLEDs, we cover other promising emerging technologies - such as Perovskite materials, MRAM and RRAM memory technologies, Spintronics, E-Paper and others. I am very interested in renewable energy, and would love to get deeper into organic PVs (OPVs) and this is something that we indeed consider getting into.
As Ron noted in today’s interview, progress has been slow for the graphene and the OLED markets. While researchers continue to make impressive strides in both, companies are yet to realize the benefits these technologies offer. The standardization of graphene and capacity expansion of OLED devices is necessary for widespread adoption, something which Ron believes will happen in the very near future.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ron for answering our questions and providing his expertise in this area.
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About the Analyst:
Ron Mertens is the founder and editor-in-chief of OLED-Info and Graphene-Info. A software engineer by trade, he is also an entrepreneur with a keen eye for emerging technologies and a passion for getting to know the people behind the companies. He lives in Herzliya, Israel, where he also raises his two precious daughters. Despite his time-consuming work, Ron manages to make time for playing the piano, skiing and hiking, as well as his newfound love of surfing.