PHOLED looks like the future of TVs — here’s why

Samsung S95C OLED TV
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve never heard of PHOLED, you’re not alone. The technology is already partially at the core of the best OLED TVs and soon TVs from Samsung and LG could be using it entirely for the subpixels in every OLED display pixel.

The company behind PHOLED is betting on PHOLED being the future. Universal Display Corporation (UDC) has been making PHOLED — which stands for phosphorescent organic light emitting diode — for years and now is expanding its operations. The company just announced the opening of a new PHOLED manufacturing plant in Shannon, Ireland to manufacture more of its signature phosphorescent materials for OLED displays.

Our phosphorescent OLED (PHOLED) materials and technology can be found in virtually every commercial OLED product around the world

Janice Mahon, UDC

While the factory was just officially unveiled to the world, UDC and its partner PPG have been working on this new E.U. factory for a while now. According to Janice K. Mahon SVP, Technology Commercialization & GM, Commercial Sales Business at Universal Display Corporation, the factory has been in development since February 2021 and has already begun production.

UDC could not specify which customers will be serviced by this new plant — LG Display and Samsung Display have recently been tipped to adopt fully PHOLED TV displays in the near future — but Mahon did state that the factory will “service existing and future customers whose display products require UDC’s state-of-the-art, energy-efficient phosphorescent OLED emissive materials” and that PHOLED materials have already started rolling out to display makers. Clearly, UDC expects that PHOLED isn’t going away anytime soon.

 What is PHOLED and why does it matter?

How PHOLED technology works in OLED TV displays

(Image credit: Universal Display Corporation)

Currently, OLED displays already partially use PHOLED technology. An OLED pixel is made up of three subpixels: red, green and blue (RGB), though LG OLED TVs add a fourth white subpixel. These subpixels are either phosphorescent subpixels or fluorescent subpixels — and these aren’t created equal.

The biggest difference? Fluorescent subpixels are significantly less power efficient. In fact, Mahon says fluorescent subpixels are just 25% as efficient as their phosphorescent counterparts.

Most OLED displays already use red and green phosphorescent subpixels developed by UDC. In fact, Mahon says that UDC PHOLED materials are "found in virtually every commercial OLED product around the world." But everyone still uses fluorescent blue subpixels — largely because UDC is still developing a phosphorescent alternative (Mahon says blue PHOLED is still in R&D).

However, with this new factory in Ireland, UDC could quickly ramp up production of blue PHOLED subpixels to quickly transition the OLED TV market to fully PHOLED displays. And that’s good news because significantly more efficient TVs would be a major upgrade for everyone.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.