Highly efficient organic light-emitting diodes

Aug 09, 2011 By Lee Swee Heng
Credit: iStockphoto.com/DaddyBit

(PhysOrg.com) -- Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are seen as a promising replacement for the liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) used in many flat-screen televisions because they are cheaper to mass-produce. Zhikuan Chen at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and co-workers have now shown how meticulous engineering of fluorescent molecules can dramatically increase OLED efficiency.

Conventional light-emitting diodes are made of inorganic crystals such as . OLEDS, on the other hand, utilize carbon-based materials that can be made flexible. Today, OLED technology is commonly used to make large-area outdoor displays and wearable displays. However, further improvements in operation efficiency are required if OLEDs are to become truly competitive against the alternative options.

Chen and his co-workers have now reported blue light-emitting devices that reach an external (EQE) of as high as 9.4%—almost double the classical upper limit of 5% for fluorescence-based OLEDs. “This improvement is important because higher efficiency means a lower driving voltage and thus lower power consumption and increased device lifetime,” explains Chen.

EQE is an important measure of LED operation as it determines what fraction of the charge carriers injected into the device are converted into photons that can be emitted. EQE takes into account the chance that the two types of charge carriers—negatively charged electrons and positively charged holes—recombine with each other, as well as the intrinsic probability that this results in the creation of a photon and the chance that this photon will escape from the device. Chen and his team have now used computer models to optimize these various processes.

Simulations enabled the researchers to find a structure for their active molecule—an oligofluorene—that best balanced charge carrier injection into the material and charge transport through it to enhance device emission efficiency. Further improvements were made by selecting the best emitting-layer thickness and by doping the emitter in an appropriate organic host material to minimize efficiency loss.

The OLEDs emitted blue light centered at a wavelength of 450 nanometers. Chen and his co-workers found that the high EQE was possible because the fraction of charge carriers that recombine without emitting light was negligible. Importantly, the light output was stable during operation, making it more amenable to use in practical situations. “Soon we hope to develop these materials further for lighting and displays applications,” says Chen.

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More information: Zhen, C. G. et al. Achieving highly efficient fluorescent blue organic light-emitting diodes through optimizing molecular structures and device configuration. Advanced Functional Materials 21, 699–707 (2011). DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201002165

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5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2011
Today, OLED technology is commonly used to make large-area outdoor displays and wearable displays. However, further improvements in operation efficiency are required if OLEDs are to become truly competitive against the alternative options.

What the hell physorg editors? Today OLEDs are commonly used in cellphones and other small consumer electronic devices. And that's basically it. Regular LEDs are currently used for billboards, and virtually no one wears 'wearable displays'.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2011
The reason OLEDs are not used in bigger displays is their limited lifetime. One would not want to build an expensive wall display only to have it break down in a year, because current OLEDs might have say a 10000 hours lifetime. That might be ok for a handheld device where the display is off most of the time, but is not suitable for displays that are on constantly. So lifetimes must be improved before OLEDs will get more serious applications.
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
Be afraid.. be very afraid. I had an mp3 player with OLED and it gave out way before its due date. It will take quite a bit to convince me to plop down a couple grand for a TV that may go out in a couple years. The screen needs to last as long as the rest of the circuitry. Very frustrating having a completely working device that you cant use.