OLED is the abbreviation for light-emitting diode. In general it is a special type of traditional LED (light emitting diode). It is called organic, because the emissive layer consists of a thin-film of certain organic compounds. So what is an organic compound? By its definition it is a chemical compound whose molecules contain hydrogen and carbon. Therefore, carbonates, carbon oxides and carbides are not organic for example.
Sometimes OLED is referred as to organic light emitting device, mind the difference between device and diode. In the past, prior to standardization, OLED was often also referred to as OEL, which means organic electro-luminescence.
OLED technology will emerge as a leading next-generation technology for displays and lighting. It is already used in mp3 players, cellular phones, digital camera, television screens, computer displays and many other products. It can also be used as a light source for general space illumination.
How does the technology work in a short summary? The previous mentioned thin-film of organic compounds is placed between two conductors. By applying current to the cell, positive and negative charges are recombined in the emissive layer. At this time a bright light is emitted. This process is named electrophosphore.
One of the most common advantages over LCDs (liquid crystal displays) is that OLED does not require backlighting. This means that they draw less power, which is very useful when the unit is powered from battery. As there is no backlight needed thinner displays can be produced.
The displays require less voltage, often between two and ten volts and have a wide viewing angle which is up to 160 degrees and more.
There are some other advantages over LCDs. Increased brightness and higher contrasts are one of them. Others are lighter weight, faster response time for full-motion video and broader operating temperature ranges.
There are some drawbacks and many other advantages of organic LED technology in comparison to traditional LEDs. You can find a separate article about the advantages and drawbacks on this website.