The best OLED TVs could get even brighter – here's how

Nanotech OLED electrode
(Image credit: University of Michigan)
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After a brighter OLED TV? Researchers at the University of Michigan may have cracked OLED's dim brightness problem, with a new electrode that can "liberate" 20% more light from respective screens – at the same time as increasing energy efficiency and improving the battery life of portable OLED displays (smartphones and the like).

The electrode design effectively improves the emission of light from an OLED screen's diodes, with a blog post (opens in new tab) on the Univerisity of Michigan's website stating that "the approach prevents light from being trapped in the light-emitting part of an OLED, enabling OLEDs to maintain brightness while using less power."

This electrode is intended to replace the transparent model typically used between the panel and its glass surface, using a 5nm (nanometer) silver and copper layer that better directs light towards the glass – with far less light being lost to the sides of each electrode.

But this could go even further, we're told. Co-author of the study Changyeong Jeong says researchers were "able to free up about 34% of the light by using unconventional materials with special emission directions or patterning structures" – adding that manufacturers could even "liberate more than 40% of the light" using their processes.

Light at the end of the tunnel

OLED TVs are notorious for their dim output, which is the next big hurdle for OLED manufacturers to overcome. It's something that's already changing, as with the new OLED evo panel used in the LG G1, which also outputs 20% more peak brightness than its 2020 predecessor, the LG GX.

However, LG Display tells us that larger TV sizes have the biggest impact (opens in new tab) in this regard, with a 83-inch panel size being best for their own luminance improvements – despite the LG G1 not currently coming in that size.

The real test for TV makers is whether they can apply widespread brightness solutions across their OLED TV ranges, in every size and iteration – getting closer to the 1,000 nits brightness level desired for HDR, or even the heady heights of QLED TVs that can output several times that.

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.