For the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, or IAA as they call it (which stands for Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung), Audi is preparing to show the world its newest advancement in automotive lighting technology.
It builds on the Matrix OLED system they unveiled in 2013, an advancement that further opens more avenues for creative design opportunities to accompany the overall technological refinement. Audi is also building that into production tail lights, also planning to show that off on a concept car at Frankfurt this year.
Most of us are very familiar with the acronym LED or ‘light emitting diode’, but the O prefix stands for ‘organic’. In each OLED unit, two electrodes have multiple very thin in-built layers of organic semiconductor materials.
A low voltage of between three or four volts activates the electroluminescent layers that emit different colours based on the molecular composition of the light source. Traditional LEDs are point light sources that are comprised of semiconductor crystals, while OLEDs are flat light sources.
Being as such, these light beams cast no shadow, don’t require reflectors, cooling, or any other optical focusing elements, making the spatial overhead very low when implementing the technology for automotive use, such as for a headlight. Their efficiency and light weight and maintenance-free is also a boon.
With progress on OLED technology moving rapidly, turn signals and brakes lights will be inheriting this technology as well. In due time, the glass sheets that encase the organic material will be replaced by lighter and more compact plastic film that can better lend themselves to three-dimensional forming processes and a wide variety of design possibilities.
The illuminated sub-surfaces of an OLED panel have very defined boundaries between each other, and it’s one of the distinguishing features of Audi’s own spin on the technology, resulting in the Matrix OLED that supplements Audi’s Matrix LED and Matrix Laser lighting technologies.