Making OLED Displays In The Home Lab

A homemade seven-segment OLED display

Just a general observation: when your project’s BOM includes ytterbium metal, chances are pretty good that it’s something interesting. We’d say that making your own OLED displays at home definitely falls into that category.

Of course, the making of organic light-emitting diodes requires more than just a rare-earth metal, not least of which is the experience in the field that [Jeroen Vleggaar] brings to this project. Having worked on OLEDs at Philips for years, [Jeroen] is well-positioned to tackle the complex process, involving things like physical vapor deposition and the organic chemistry of coordinated quinolones. And that’s not to mention the quantum physics of it all, which is nicely summarized in the first ten minutes or so of the video below. From there it’s all about making a couple of OLED displays using photolithography and the aforementioned PVD to build up a sandwich of Alq3, an electroluminescent organic compound, on a substrate of ITO (indium tin oxide) glass. We especially appreciate the use of a resin 3D printer to create the photoresist masks, as well as the details on the PVD process.

The displays themselves look fantastic — at least for a while. The organic segments begin to oxidize rapidly from pinholes in the material; a cleanroom would fix that, but this was just a demonstration, after all. And as a bonus, the blue-green glow of [Jeroen]’s displays reminds us strongly of the replica Apollo DSKY display that [Ben Krasnow] built a while back.

13 thoughts on “Making OLED Displays In The Home Lab

  1. Yep, I store my turbomolecular pump right next to screwdrivers in my home lab. Have to move it recently to make room for small 1.9GW tokamak I borrow from my neighbor.

    1. I do the same, my flux capacitor will be done next week (the prototype is/was finished 25 years from now), so I will have to move a few things around to make room for ithe portable 1.21 GW generator.

  2. Absolutely fascinating! I wish more researchers, engineers or technicians share their knowledge as much and as well as this guy!
    Not only for us to learn, but also simply to preserve memory of these technologies and skills to be lost with time passing by…

    By the way, i wonder what are the differences with these russian electroluminescent display devices:

    Those russian ones use AC high voltage, and my understanding is that they act like a capacitor. So quite differently than OLED.

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