Work Group 4
Emerging Lighting, Electronics and Displays

This topic deals with a broad palette of interrelated photonics technologies, each showing different times to market, notably, LED (Light Emitting Diodes), OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes), OPV (Organic Photovoltaic), Flexible Electronics based on OLAE (Organic Large Area Electronics) and Display technology.

Each of these technologies offers substantial contributions towards solving the grand societal challenges defined by the European Commission:

  • Displays for medical diagnostics, SSL (Solid StateLighting) offering the optimum lighting conditionsfor lack of daylight, and Flexible Electronics unlocking personalised diagnostics and treatment,will impact Health, demographic change and well-being.
  • SSL reducing lighting energy consumption by a factor of three, and OPV generating clean energy locally, will substantially contribute to Secure, clean and efficient energy and indirectly to Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials.
  • OPV integrated into cars and SSL road lighting as part of traffic management systems will play a role in the realisation of Smart, green and integrated transport.
  • Innovative Human Machine Interface using Flexible Electronics, and Display technology for rich visual information everywhere and at any time, will be highly instrumental in the realisation of Inclusive, innovative and secure societies. It is indisputable that ubiquitous connectivity will be a prerequisite for making this happen.

Major photonics needs

The market share of LED technology is rapidly increasing, and it is projected to become the dominant lighting technology before the end of the decade. This change in technology will allow the business to transition from light sources to intelligent lighting solutions. While the present added value of intelligent lighting clearly rests with its energy saving and the consequent reduced carbon footprint, most people are still reluctant to commit themselves to this technology because of the lack of a convincing proof of its economic viability. Furthermore, the benefits of lighting on health and well-being are anticipated to generate even more added value, and so justify further investigation.


The sustained research efforts over recent years have resulted in a steady increase in performance of both OLED and OPV technologies. For these now to become competitive with LED technology and Si-PV (silicon based photovoltaic) technology respectively, a clear breakthrough in cost performance ratio will be needed, requiring, amongst other things, a massive investment in production equipment.

The development of Flexible Electronics is now offering a variety of new functionalities, having the potential to open up a completely new branch of industry. This European industry will be built around a large number of SMEs, each of them targeting specific application domains with their customised devices, complemented by existing large companies. Flexible Electronics will also unlock innovation in traditional industry segments, such as printing, plastic moulding, paper, and even textiles. In order to respond quickly to the demands of the market, all these companies will need access to flexible production facilities. Considering the current limited availability of financial resources, such capital investments will present a clear challenge.

Despite the display market being dominated (in terms of production volume) by players from Asia Pacific, Europe has maintained its position of strength in material supply, production equipment and visualisation systems. The display industry is currently shifting its focus from LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) towards OLED technology for direct-view displays, from lamps towards LEDs for microdisplays, and towards high brightness LEDs or solidstate lasers for projection displays. 3D displays that do not require special viewing glasses will be the next step in televisual experience, ultimately enabling remote collaboration. This will require the development of display systems showing a resolution exceeding that of current HDTVs by at least a factor of 100. The ubiquitous presence of displays will continue to create profitable niches, answering different needs throughout the European market.

Further information

The detailed Photonics21 Work Group 4 photonics research and innovation priorities are outlined if you download the Photonics Roadmap.

You will find the Work Group 4 research and innovation priorities for Horizon 2020 Work programme 2016/2017 in the section Photonics PPP – Research and Innovation Priorities.

Information and presentations of the Work Group 4 workshops can be found in the Photonics21 member area.