Organic light-emitting diodes made from small molecular weight organic semiconductors are composed of multiple functional layers. These layers are in most cases amorphous assemblies of the molecular building blocks. In our joint paper with our collaborators of the Group of Nanomaterials and Microsystems (GNaM) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona entitled ‘High-performance organic light-emitting diodes comprising ultrastable glass layers‘, we shed some light on the growth of these layers. The work is published in Science Advances. The molecules making up the amorphous layers do not necessarily fall into place perfectly so that over time (but these are very long times beyond the lifespan of an OLED) the molecules wiggle into a more compact assembly. This settling can be accelerated greatly if the molecules on the surface are given some extra energy to migrate. Providing excess thermal energy through an elevated substrate temperature, much more stable morphologies – called ultrastable glasses – are formed. The optimum condition for this growth is around 85% of the materials glass transition temperature.
In our study we have tested this growth condition for four different phosphorescent emitters in one common device stack and found that both the external quantum efficiencies and device lifetimes significantly increased. The illustration below summarizes our work graphically.
The full citation is: J. Ràfols-Ribé, P.-A. Will, C. Hänisch, M. González-Silveira, S. Lenk, J. Rodríguez-Viejo, S. Reineke, High-performance organic light-emitting diodes comprising ultrastable glass layers. Sci. Adv. 4, eaar8332 (2018). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar8332.