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

Next-generation OLED TVs could boost brightness without a price hike — here’s how

There’s big news for the future of the best OLED TVs, because the next big leap for technology could reduce energy consumption by 25%, according to one of the companies driving this development. This is possible with the use of a new “blue phosphor” pixel, or so says the CEO of Universal Display, which is working on the technology.

Particularly in OLED TVs, efficiency has a huge impact on brightness, as in most OLED TVs I could they would get brighter if more power was pumped into them. But that means they would get hotter, which would mean screens could die sooner and be more likely to burn out.

That’s why it’s so exciting that the development of a new type of blue pixel can improve efficiency so much. Better energy efficiency means that heat is reduced, meaning you can add more power to improve brightness without overheating the panel.

Now, new OLED TVs getting brighter aren’t exactly new – the LG G3 and Samsung S95C both made a huge leap in brightness this year. But they’ve also taken a big step in “being very expensive,” and it looks promising that the blue phosphorus improvements might not cost more.

“Applying first-generation blue phosphor can reduce the power consumption of the entire OLED display by 24-25 percent,” says Mike Hack, vice president of Universal Display. The Elect (reported in English by Flat panelsHD). “The percentage of blue phosphor in the cost of the panel material is very small, so it would be cost-effective.”

Universal Display’s blue pixel technology is reportedly currently being evaluated by Samsung Display and LG Display – the only two makers of OLED TV panels – with potential use in production in 2024, so 2025 TVs could be the first to use it.

Blue is the least warm color

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

It is the “phosphorus” part that is important here. Phosphorescent displays are nearly 100% internally efficient, meaning that all the light they produce escapes the pixel, to be directed at your eyes (ideally). Currently, red and green OLED pixels can be made glow in the dark, but blue cannot. Blue is composed of fluorescent materials that are only 25% efficient, meaning that the vast majority of the energy contained in them produces no visible light.

So if a pixel color could be made more efficient with almost no increase in material cost, it would be an immediate leap forward for what all OLED TVs can do…but particularly for Samsung’s QD-OLEDs.

Breakage of Samsung's QD-OLED panel.

Samsung’s QD-OLED TVs are all about blue pixels, so it’s probably looking forward to this technology… (Image credit: Samsung)

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

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

Of course, with blue phosphor still a long way off any television, there’s plenty of room for some twists and turns in the future. But it seems clear that many of the best TVs will get even better.

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