An organic light-emitting diode (OLED), also known as organic electroluminescent (organic EL) diode, is a light-emitting diode (LED) in which the emissive electroluminescent layer is a film of organic compound that emits light in response to an electric current. This organic layer is situated between two electrodes; typically, at least one of these electrodes is transparent. OLEDs are used to create digital displays in devices such as television screens, computer monitors, and portable systems such as smartphones and handheld game consoles. A major area of research is the development of white OLED devices for use in solid-state lighting applications.
There are two main families of OLED: those based on small molecules and those employing polymers. Adding mobile ions to an OLED creates a light-emitting electrochemical cell (LEC) which has a slightly different mode of operation. An OLED display can be driven with a passive-matrix (PMOLED) or active-matrix (AMOLED) control scheme. In the PMOLED scheme, each row and line in the display is controlled sequentially, one by one, whereas AMOLED control uses a thin-film transistor (TFT) backplane to directly access and switch each individual pixel on or off, allowing for higher resolution and larger display sizes.
OLED is fundamentally different from LED which is based on a p-n diode structure. In LEDs doping is used to create p- and n- regions by changing the conductivity of the host semiconductor. OLEDs do not employ a p-n structure. Doping of OLEDs is used to increase radiative efficiency by direct modification of the quantum-mechanical optical recombination rate. Doping is additionally used to determine the wavelength of photon emission.
An OLED display works without a backlight because it emits its own visible light. Thus, it can display deep black levels and can be thinner and lighter than a liquid crystal display (LCD). In low ambient light conditions (such as a dark room), an OLED screen can achieve a higher contrast ratio than an LCD, regardless of whether the LCD uses cold cathode fluorescent lamps or an LED backlight. OLED displays are made in the same way as LCDs, but after TFT (for active matrix displays), addressable grid (for passive matrix displays) or indium-tin oxide (ITO) segment (for segment displays) formation, the display is coated with hole injection, transport and blocking layers, as well with electroluminescent material after the first 2 layers, after which ITO or metal may be applied again as a cathode and later the entire stack of materials is encapsulated. The TFT layer, addressable grid or ITO segments serve as or are connected to the anode, which may be made of ITO or metal. OLEDs can be made flexible and transparent, with transparent displays being used in smartphones with optical fingerprint scanners and flexible displays being used in foldable smartphones.