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In this year’s race Le Mans 24 Hours, the ORECA 01 car will be using new rear view mirrors with a thin film encapsulated Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode, OLED, in a composite structure done in a one shot process.
OLEDs are paper-thin, flexible and lightweight devices consuming up to 70% less energy compared to conventional light sources, making them prime candidates for the next generation of lighting.
To use OLEDs on the car, there was one critical step to overcome. OLEDs are sensitive to moisture, and even to oxygen, and had to be protected from these in order to maintain a long lifetime. The success of the OLED on the car is dependent on the encapsulation technology into the Araldite composite materials.
Part of the OLED research was conducted within the European FP7 programme Fast2Light, co-ordinated by Holst Centre. In the field of encapsulation technology and moist barriers for flexible electronic devices, it appears that Holst Centre and its partners are amongst the few who are already able to make flexible OLED lighting and signage devices.
Since OLEDs are not expected to become available in target niche or mass market lighting applications for a few years to come, the integration of the OLEDs into the ORECA O1’s rear view mirrors represents a great success.
Pierre Seze, Composite Department Manager at ORECA explained: “We are extremely happy and proud to be involved in the OLED project. The integration of the OLED system in our carbon fibre pre-preg creates several advantages for our race car. Due to its weight, the performance of the rear view mirror is not compromised and there are no mechanical issues associated with the OLEDs.
“This technology fits perfectly with the extremely demanding constraints of an endurance race such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We pay tribute to the team at Huntsman’s laboratory for their help and support during the whole process.”
André Genton, Huntsman CEO said: “The ORECA car has already proved its speed and reliability over the past three seasons and by working hand in hand with other members of the team we have the opportunity to test our materials far beyond the limits of normal conditions. If Araldite® can withstand the demands of a racing track, then we know we have a winning formula.”
Ton van Mol, Programme Manager of Flexible OLED Lighting and Signage at Holst Centre added: “We are very proud to see our technology successfully applied in this ambitious and prestigious project. To my knowledge, it is the first time that an OLED on flexible foil is shown outside the laboratory in an actual application. Because of the harsh conditions, applications in automotive are always very demanding for the technologies that are used. Racing teams like ORECA raise the bar even higher. The results of this integration project will be very valuable in our further research. We wish the entire team all the best during the race and hope that drivers, car and OLED will make a bright finish.”
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