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Rollable, Transparent OLED Displays Just Took a Huge Leap Forward

By Steve Symington – Jul 11, 2014 at 11:30AM

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LG Display just unveiled significant progress in its cutting-edge display technologies.

LG Display stock, Universal Display stock

Thanks to materials from Universal Display and significant R&D efforts, LG Display just unveiled an 18-inch rollable, transparent OLED display, Credit: LG Display.

Forget rigid displays. LG Display (LPL 1.44%) has something much more interesting in store.

LG Display just showcased its biggest leap yet in advancing next-generation OLED technology: an 18-inch transparent, rollable prototype display. The prototype has a resolution of 1,200 x 800 and features a new polyamide film on its back to afford the panel greater flexibility than conventional plastic provides. As a result, the panel can be rolled into a tube with a diameter of just 3 centimeters.

Of course, it's "just" a prototype for now, so it's not surprising that shares of LG Display are trading lower as the broader markets retreat. But this does help to explain today's nearly 2% rise in shares of OLED specialist Universal Display (OLED 2.87%). Remember, Universal Display both licenses its OLED patent portfolio and sells the necessary OLED materials required for LG Display to bring this technology to fruition. In fact, Universal Display has long reminded shareholders that enabling the commercialization of rollable displays has remained one of its core visions since the company was founded in 1994. 

Much to the delight of Universal Display shareholders, LG Display has pushed hard in recent years to emerge as a leader in fostering OLED technology. Less than two weeks ago, for example, LG Display confirmed plans to invest nearly $790 million to ramp up production capacity during the second half of the year at its OLED television facility in Paju, South Korea. This should help LG Display further reduce the cost of its stunning 55-inch curved OLED televisions -- which currently sell online for a whopping $4,000 -- en route to its goal of bringing OLED television prices down to a 10% premium to competing LCDs.

LG Display stock, Universal Display stock

LG Display's new transparent OLED displays offer better transmittance with less haze, Credit: LG Display.

On that note, LG Display also revealed another transparent prototype display featuring significantly reduced haze of 2% and impressive 30% transmittance -- or roughly three times the transmittance levels afforded by today's transparent LCDs. For perspective, this is also a nod to LG Display's place in a 2-year-old consortium spearheaded by the South Korean government, one goal of which is to spur economic growth by creating ultra high-definition, 60-inch flexible OLED displays by 2017. 

LG Display's senior vice president and head of R&D, In-Byung Kang, reiterated confidence that this goal remains achievable: "[...] by 2017, we will successfully develop an Ultra HD flexible and transparent OLED panel of more than 60 inches."

When that happens, you can bet that today's forward-looking investors in both LG Display and Universal Display will be there to reap the rewards.

Steve Symington owns shares of Apple and Universal Display. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Universal Display. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Universal Display. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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