France's Le Mans race car to feature University Centre's OLED mirror
Swansea University's Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating has helped to develop a Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) mirror, which will be used on Oreca's – the French racing team – car in this year's 24 Hours Le Mans race, from June 12-13.
The Centre, based in the University's School of Engineering, is one of the partners in the European Union FP7 Fast2light project, which has developed an integrated thin film encapsulated OLED, which will be used on the back of the car’s rear-view mirrors.
The initiators of the project – Huntsman Advanced Materials, Switzerland and the Holst Centre, Netherlands – consider the integration in the composite material of the race car as a great success.
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 current success of the OLED integration in the car is dependent on the encapsulation technology and Araldite® composite materials of Huntsman Advanced Materials.
The OLED itself displays the logo Araldite® – a brand which belongs to Huntsman – and was provided by the Holst Centre, a Dutch open-innovation initiative by imec (B) and TNO (NL).
At the Holst Centre, leading industrial and academic partners from across the world collaborate in mixed teams to solve shared research challenges. The Holst Centre and its partners are among the very few who are already able to make flexible OLED lighting and signage devices.
Professor Tim Claypole, the founder and Director of The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating in Swansea University's School of Engineering, said: "It is good to see a demonstration of the potential for OLED’s in displays that has already been realised.
"We hope now that Fast2light can race forward to the objective of our project, which is R2R OLED lighting. This energy efficient lighting will be of enormous benefit to Europe."
Ton van Mol, Program Manager Flexible OLED Lighting and Signage at the Holst Centre said: "We are very proud to see our technology succesfully 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."
André Genton, Huntsman CEO said: "The integration of the OLEDs into the ORECAO1's rear view mirrors represents a great success. The ORECA car has already proven 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."
Pierre Seze, Composite Department Manager at Oreca, said: "First of all, we are very happy and proud to be involved in the OLED project. The integration of the OLED system in our carbon fiber pre-preg represents several advantages for our race car. The first one is the weight. Indeed with the OLED system our race car mirror carbon fiber made, keep its performance in terms of weight. Furthermore the integration of the OLED system doesn’t imply any mechanical problem on the carbon fiber pre preg made car mirror.
"This technology fit perfectly with the very demanding constraints of endurance race such Le Mans 24 Hours."