Sony announced Tuesday that it would invest a cool 22 billion yen, or about $204 million, into the development of its organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel technology for televisions.

OLED panels, which are made up of organic compounds, are thinner and more energy-efficient than traditional liquid-crystal displays because they do not require a backlight to function.

Sony turned heads when it launched the first television set in the world using OLED technology in 2007, available for purchase in Japan for a hefty $2,500. That's quite a price for a television just 11 inches in diameter.

But in its rush to get to the market, Sony may be worse for the wear in comparison with companies developing more impressive models. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, for example, Samsung boasted a 31-inch OLED prototype and Hitachi is working on a 33-inch model. But neither one will be sold commercially for at least another couple of years, when both companies hope the technology will be more cost-effective.

Sony plans to power ahead, using the investment to speed up the development of “middle- and large-size, high-quality OLED panels.”

Television manufacturers aren't the only ones hoping to make use of OLED technology.

The solar industry is also looking to use light-emitting diode technology to become more energy-efficient.

For example, Pittsburgh-based Plextronics brought in $20.6 million in a second round of funding in August, and also bolstered the claim of having the highest energy-conversion rate among organic solar cells (see Does Going Organic Require Exaggeration?).