Next-gen OLED TVs could boost brightness without a price hike – here’s how

 Samsung S90C OLED TV showing a woman at a funfair eating cotton candy
Samsung S90C OLED TV showing a woman at a funfair eating cotton candy

There's great news for the future of the best OLED TVs, because the next big leap forward for the tech could cut power consumption by 25%, according to one of the companies taking the lead on this development. That's possible with the use of a new 'blue phospor' pixel, or so says the CEO of Universal Display, which is working on the tech.

In OLED TVs in particular, efficiency has a huge impact on their brightness – most OLED TVs could go brighter if more power was pumped into them. But that means they'd run hotter, which would mean the screens could die earlier and be more likely to develop burn-in.

That's why it's so exciting that the development of a new kind of blue pixel could improve efficiency that much. Better energy efficiency means heat is reduced, which then means you can push in more power to improve brightness without overheating the panel.

Now, new OLED TVs getting brighter isn't exactly news – the LG G3 and Samsung S95C this year both took a huge leap forward in brightness. But they also took a big leap forward in "being very expensive," and it sounds promising that the improvements from blue phosphor might not cost you more.

"The application of the first-generation blue phosphor can reduce the power consumption of the entire OLED display by 24-25%," claims Mike Hack, Vice President of Universal Display to The Elec (reported in English by FlatpanelsHD). "The proportion of blue phosphor in the panel material cost is very small, so it would be cost-effective."

Reportedly, Universal Display's blue pixel tech is currently being evaluated by Samsung Display and LG Display – the only two makers of OLED TV panels – with potential use in manufacturing in 2024, so 2025's TVs may be the first to make use of it.

Blue is the less-warm color

The more efficient blue phosphor pixel tech that's at the heart of this development has been coming for a while. Last December, Universal Display started talking about how its new blue emitters were nearly ready, and would massively improve efficiency. And in the recent past, we'd heard that the technology was being considered by both LG and Samsung.

It's the "phosphor" part that's important here. Phosphorescent displays are nearly 100% internally efficient, meaning that all of the light they produce escapes the pixel, to be directed towards your eyes (ideally). Currently, red and green OLED pixels can be made phosphorescent – but blue can't. Blue is made from florescent materials that are only 25% efficient, meaning that the vast majority of energy that goes into them doesn't product light you can see.

So if one color of pixel can be made more efficient with almost no increase in cost of materials, it could be an instant leap forward for what all OLED TVs can do… but especially for Samsung's QD-OLEDs.

Samsung's QD-OLED panel breakdown.
Samsung's QD-OLED panel breakdown.

QD-OLED screens are slightly different to regular OLED TVs, because they don't have red, green and blue pixels to create different colors. Instead, they have blue (and green) OLED pixels only, which shine through a color-changing layer of quantum dots. At the moment, Samsung has to use multiple layers of blue pixels to get the stunning levels of brightness that we measured in our Samsung S90C review and Samsung S95C review.

So if blue pixels go from 25% efficiency to 100% efficiency, QD-OLED TVs could actually become much easier and actually cheaper to produce at the same levels of brightness. Samsung has been working on its own version of blue phosphor tech, presumably for this very reason.

Of course, with blue phosphor still a little way off being in any televisions yet, there's plenty of scope for some twists along the away. But it seems clear that many of the best TVs are going to get even better.

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