This schematic shows the basic structure of an exciplex-based OLED with emission color and efficiency that can be controlled simply by changing the spacer thickness. An exciplex forms when a hole in the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of a donor molecule is attracted to an electron in the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of an acceptor molecule. Light is emitted when the electron releases energy as light and transfers across the spacer layer to the donor molecule, thus replacing the missing electron represented by the hole. The thickness of the spacer can be used to modify the attraction between the hole and electron and tune the exciplex energy. Without changing any of the molecules, emission color could be varied from orange to yellowish green and the efficiency enhanced eight fold by increasing the spacer thickness to 5 nm. This device was first reported in the paper titled ‘Long-range coupling of electron-hole pairs in spatially separated organic donor-acceptor layers’ written by H. Nakanotani at Kyushu University’s Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics Research (OPERA) in Fukuoka, Japan, and colleagues and published online Feb. 26, 2016 in the journal Science Advances.
Hajime Nakanotani and William John Potscavage Jr.
Demonstrating a strategy that could form the basis for a new class of electronic devices with uniquely tunable properties, researchers at Kyushu University were able to widely vary the emission color and efficiency of organic light-emitting diodes based on exciplexes simply by changing the distance between key molecules in the devices by a few nanometers.
This new way to control electrical properties by slightly changing the device thickness instead of the materials could lead to new kinds of organic electronic devices with switching behavior or light emission that reacts to external factors.
Organic electronic devices such as OLEDs and organic solar cells use thin films of organic molecules for the electrically active materials, making flexible and low-cost devices possible.
A key factor determining the properties of organic devices is the behavior of packets of electrical energy called excitons. An exciton consists of a negative electron attracted to a positive hole, which can be thought of as a missing electron.
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