This illustration demonstrates the new OLED screening process. Image: AG Matthias Wagner.
This illustration demonstrates the new OLED screening process. Image: AG Matthias Wagner.

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are promising candidates for the next generation of flexible flat displays. A new screening process developed by chemists at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany now offers a quick and easy way to identify novel OLED materials with superior luminescence and charge-transport properties.

The rising demand for increasingly sophisticated smartphones, tablets and home cinemas is a growing challenge for display technology. Organic materials can potentially meet this challenge; in particular, molecules from the class of organic materials known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be used to produce large and mechanically flexible flat screens. PAHs unite brilliant colors with high resolution and produce OLEDs that are low in energy consumption.

Chemists at Goethe University Frankfurt, led by Matthias Wagner at the Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, are currently investigating new types of organic luminescent materials that owe their particularly promising properties to the introduction of boron atoms into the PAH scaffold. To date, however, synthesizing these materials has proved to be extremely complex and time-consuming. The recently-developed screening process could help to alleviate this situation, by offering an efficient method for evaluating the potential of these boron-doped PAHs as OLED materials. Only the most promising candidates will then be examined more extensively in the next stage.

As Wagner and his group report in Angewandte Chemie, their method is based on a three-component reaction: two components remain unchanged in all reactions whilst the third is chosen from a broad range of cheaply-available PAHs. The reactive boron-containing starting material plays an important role in assembling the resultant PAH scaffold, and in conferring the desired optoelectronic properties by increasing luminescence and improving the materials’ electrical conductivity.

“For a long time, it has mostly been pharmaceutical research which has profited from screening processes,” explains doctoral researcher Alexandra John. “Yet it makes sense precisely in the dynamic and growing field of organic materials to use similar strategies to achieve results in a cost-efficient and resource-friendly way”.

“Our development’s market relevance can also be seen by the fact that the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is giving our research work generous financial support,” says Wagner. The funding instrument behind it – WIPANO – supports the transfer of knowledge and technology through patents, and aims to ensure the commercial exploitation of innovative ideas and inventions generated by public-funded research by safeguarding and utilizing intellectual property. Wagner and John have already filed a patent on their OLED screening process.

This story is adapted from material from Goethe University Frankfurt, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.