Although OLED displays can now be found in smartphones and extremely expensive televisions, the technology has struggled to ramp up to larger panel sizes. The problem, it seems, is that OLEDs must be patterned as they're laid out on a display. Patterning is currently being done with a shadow mask technique that can't maintain its accuracy as things scale up. No wonder those ultra-thin OLED TVs are so expensive.
According to this article published by MIT's Technology Review, a better alternative could exist in the form of a new display type dubbed QLED. MIT spin-off QD Vision developed the display technology, whose pixels are made up of quantum-dot LEDs. When exposed to light or an electrical current, these nanometer-scale semiconductors emit bright, pure colors that don't need to be filtered. And they reportedly do so more efficiently than OLEDs, allowing QLEDs to get by with lower operating voltages.
At the moment, longevity seems to be the biggest problem facing QLEDs; the current generation has a lifespan of only 10,000 hours. Ensuring color uniformity also presents a challenge, but QD Vision CTO Seth Coe-Sullivan thinks we're "just getting to that point where you can see commercialization on the horizon." Let's hope that horizon comes quicker than it has for affordable large-scale OLED displays.