Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered new ways of using a well-known polymer in organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which could eliminate the need for an increasingly problematic and breakable metal-oxide used in screen displays in computers, televisions, and cell phones.
The metal-oxide, indium tin oxide (ITO), is a transparent conductor used as the anode for flat screen displays, and has been the standard for decades. Due to indium's limited supply, increasing cost and the increasing demand for its use in screen and lighting technologies, the U.S. Department of Energy has designated indium as "near-critical" in its assessment of materials vital to clean energy technology. Scientists have been working to find an energy efficient, cost effective substitute.
The polymer’s name is a mouthful of a word: poly (3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene):poly(styrene sulfonate), known as PEDOT:PSS for short, and has been around for about 15 years. Until recently, the material wasn’t sufficiently conductive or transparent enough to be a viable ITO substitute, Shinar said. But by using a multi-layering technique and special treatments, Cai and his fellow scientists were able to fabricate PEDOT:PSS OLEDs with vastly improved properties.
The researchers used computer simulations to show that the enhanced performance is largely an effect of the difference in the optical properties between the polymer- and ITO-based devices.
Another key property of PEDOT:PSS is flexibility; using ITO in OLEDs defeats one of OLED’s big pluses compared to conventional LED technology.
The research builds on continuing work to find more affordable and efficient manufacturing materials and processes for OLED manufacturing. An earlier paper published in Advanced Materials by Joseph Shinar and Ruth Shinar along with Min Cai , Teng Xiao , Emily Hellerich , and Ying Chen demonstrated the use of solution processing for small molecule-based OLEDs, which are typically constructed using a more expensive thermal evaporation deposition process.
The scientists’ ongoing investigations into better materials and processes pave the way to more cost-efficient manufacturing and making OLED technology more widely available to consumers.
This story is reprinted from material from Ames Laboratory, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.