In June 2020, the next generation of a lighting technology premiered in the Audi Q5: digital OLED technology. With organic light-emitting diodes (so-called OLEDs), Audi was a pioneer as far back as in 2016. Now digitalization is ringing in a new age. This technology promises to improve road safety and is the first to allow for personalization of the taillight signature.
Dr. Werner Thomas, OLED technology project manager at Audi, explains: “Headlight technology has seen a rapid evolution at Audi in recent decades. In addition, we have been decisively driving the development of rear-lighting systems.” The latest milestone achievement: now the brand is the first automobile manufacturer to digitize the taillights.
Why does Audi focus on OLED technology?
OLED light sources are panel radiators – unlike point light sources such as LEDs using semiconductor crystals. The benefits of OLEDs: Their light is extremely homogeneous. It is infinitely dimmable and achieves very high contrast. It can be split into segments. These segments are individually controllable and can develop diverse levels of brightness, with minimal gaps between the segments. The lighting unit does not require any reflectors, optical fibers or similar optics. This makes OLED units very efficient, lightweight and flat, which considerably increases design freedom.
An OLED lighting element is just one millimeter thin, while conventional LED solutions require much greater installed depths of 20 to 30 millimeters. The energy requirement of an OLED is once again significantly lower than that of LED optics if the latter are to achieve similar homogeneity. Audi’s OLED technology made its production debut in the taillight of the Audi TT Rs in 2016. Up to now, Audi models using OLED lighting technology have had up to four individually controllable, complex lighting segments that could be used for an individual, defined lighting design.