Unveiling PHOLED: The Future of Display Technology

PHOLED is about to shake up display technology. Are you ready? Photo by Tyler Lastovich

Do you remember when large CRT displays started being replaced by LCD technology? It was during the first decade of the 21st century, and for many of us, that was the pinnacle of display technology. I mean, smart-looking slim televisions taking over the box-like heavy ones—what else could we ask for? But our expectations grew when LEDs, OLEDs, QLEDs, and other technologically advanced and intriguing displays started to appear.

We’re now pretty much waiting for the physical components to vanish completely and the display to appear out of thin air.

That might still be a long walk, but the display world is about to change yet again with the latest PHOLED (Phosphorescent OLED) technology. It’s a highly upgraded version of the OLED that beats all the other displays in energy efficiency by nearly 100%.

So, is it truly here to stay, and if so, will it replace the other displays on the market?

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The Significance of PHOLED Technology

First and foremost, why do we need a new technology when we already have OLEDs, QLEDS, or MicroLEDs? The primary objective of any new display technology is to enhance the visuals. I mean, if you compare the early black-and-white CRTs to modern 16K LEDs or the monochrome LEDs from early cellphones to AMOLED displays in modern smartphones,  that part is obvious.

However, energy efficiency is equally important as technology advances, and we depend more on powered gadgets. In fact, most modern electronics prioritize low energy consumption, which also reduces carbon emissions. Needless to say, display technology is a massive part of modern electronics, as it is essential on smartphones, TVs, monitors, and many other gadgets.

PHOLEDs or Phosphorescent OLEDs can bridge this gap between high-quality visuals and low power consumption. But what are they, and what exactly makes them energy efficient?

What Are PHOLEDs?

PHOLED stands for Phosphorescent Organic Light-emitting Diodes. This is also an OLED technology and is known as a subpixel. OLED displays have two types of subpixel elements: Fluorescent and Phosphorescent.

The Fluorescent subpixels absorb energy and emit light energy immediately, while the Phosphorescent emitters can emit for a long time, even after removing the power source.

Most importantly, Fluorescent particles have an efficiency of only about 25%. The majority of the power they absorb goes to waste. That means only 1/4th of the drawn electrical energy actually becomes light energy. The rest turns into heat, an unwanted byproduct.

On the other hand, Phosphorescent emitters are nearly 100% efficient, meaning they convert the entirety of electrical energy into light energy. You can save power and battery life and cut bills significantly when net heating is zero.

So they’re not just an upgrade to the existing OLEDs; they’re the future.

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Why Weren’t PHOLEDs Fully Available Yet?

So, if PHOLED is a type of OLED, shouldn’t it already be available? Well, it is, but partially.

OLED technology uses three primary color emitters: red, green, and blue. Displays need individual emitters for each color. Modern OLED displays use phosphorescent emitters for the red and green colors, but manufacturers have had to rely on fluorescent emitters for the blue color until now. So, the existing OLED displays mainly combine blue fluorescent with red and green phosphorescent elements.

Phosphorescent OLEDs first became available over two decades ago. In 2003, the red PHOLED was invented, and after ten years, in 2013, the green PHOLED became available. They were both more high-performance and more energy-efficient than their fluorescent counterparts. They quickly replaced the fluorescent pixels, except for the blue ones. Another ten years later, researchers finally cracked the code and achieved the wavelength for working blue PHOLEDs.

They managed to get a stable blue variant with the help of the Purcell effect. They reduced the energy and improved the tech with a Polariton-enhanced Purcell Effect for a longer-lasting blue PHOLED.

We can finally start seeing exclusive PHOLED displays by replacing the inefficient blue fluorescent emitters. According to the UDC (Universal Display Corporation), full PHOLED displays will be available in 2024.

Build and Mechanism of PHOLED

Generally, PHOLEDs are nonpolymeric substances used as small molecules. The construction of a PHOLED is a multilayered process. First, a substrate is laid down, and multiple layers of organic thin films are deposited. The organic films are snug between 2 electrodes. Here’s the layer map;

  • Encapsulation
  • Cathode
  • PHOLED  stack (RGB)
  • Grid
  • Anode
  • TFT passivation
  • Thin film transistors
  • Substrate

When electricity works between the two electrodes, holes and electrons start moving from the semiconductor into the PHOLED layer. Once inside the PHOLED stack, the charges combine to form excitons. They use light from both singlet and triplet excitons. In the emissive layers, they incorporate compounds of heavy metals. Triplets can now emit photons due to this modification to the spin states.

PHOLEDs can attain 100% efficiency with no heat loss. Almost all the charges effectively emit photons, but due to the nature of the material, none work toward producing heat, thus earning their efficiency.

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Advantages and Challenges of PHOLED Technology

The most significant and most obvious advantage of this technology is energy efficiency. It is 100% energy efficient, so there’s no room for energy waste as a byproduct, such as heat, sound, magnetic energy, etc. Yet, since they use OLED technology as a base, they produce a wide range of colors while maintaining high brightness.

Since they don’t generate heat as a byproduct, they can be used continuously for long hours. Smartphones and digital displays on smart devices use a lot of battery power, so an energy-efficient display can significantly prolong battery life.

Zero net heat means more life for the display itself. A more extended life saves from frequent display changes, reducing e-waste. So, there’s no doubt that this display technology can be a game changer for the industry.

However, challenges still lurk.

Given the advancements of other competitors, such as MicroLED, and possible variations of the OLED, customer adoption for PHOLED will depend on its price, availability, stability, scalability of operations, true and tested lifetime, and harmony with other technology.


If the PHOLED can deliver what it promises, it’ll revolutionize the electronic display market. Not only will it cut power usage, but it will also promote the design of lighter devices that last longer. Global e-waste and carbon footprint can be notably reduced as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for now and wait for the positive changes it will bring. If you have questions about the future of display technology, contact us today!